Monday, November 3, 2003

Sea Change

Last Wednesday Art took me to a luncheon for the High Hope Steeplechase Charity.  It was held at the Throughbred Club, a very swanky, exclusive, uppercrust, blueblood Club for the horse racing industry.  The T-club is located adjacent to the Keeneland Race Course, atop a hill on some of the most coveted land in Central KY.  Beautiful old home, built in 1876 and donated to the club in 1932...anyway.....

Our company is a major sponsor of the event.  Every year they have this luncheon and present mint julep cups to the participants. As our  company name was called, Art signaled to me to go up accept and I gleefully did so, said a few words and returned to my seat.

15 years ago, I would have not been able to do such a thing!  I would have been mortified to stand up in front of 50 people.  How things change!  I once procratinated so long, that I was unable to present a paper regarding the use of methane gas as a replacement for fossil fuel (way ahead of the times!) and almost did not graduate from college! Actually, I was terrified of standing in front of the class.

That changed in the early 90's when the company I was working for at that time sent me to a Dale Carnagie Course.  Public Speaking.  I was petrified to speak in public, and now I was faced with 12 weeks of it.  Every meeting you were required to do two things.  The first was a impromptu speech for 60 seconds.  The second was a  two minute prepared talk about an assigned subject,  such as "Your most rewarding experience".  I thought I would never make it.  Sweaty palms, light headedness, brain freeze, feeling faint was very common at the beginning.  Amazingly enough, I became less rigid and began to relax...a tad.

One of the exercises was to break off into groups and then everyone got 30 seconds to go around the group and tell each other what we liked most about that person.

I'll never forget it as long as I live.  As they began to focus on ME, one of the guys stood up and said, "Ah, Mary.  You are a delightful, intelligent, engaging, wonderful caring person and everyone in this room knows it except you."

My public life was changed from that moment forward.

Standing in front of people now is! 

No comments: