"It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can be a catalyst for profound re-invention." Conan O’Brien
Friday I met with John, the founder of Charleston’s Ecobilt Energy Systems, and in the course of our conversation he highly recommended Conan O’Brien’s commencement speech given at Dartmouth last spring. It is a phenomenal speech and you can watch it by clicking here.
I think the quotation taken from his speech is wonderfully profound. While some people, perhaps, do achieve their childhood aspriations without deviation, I think that these people who do so, find them surprisingly unfulfilling. The rest of us enjoy lives that turned out markedly different from those we imagined we would have. Not only are these lives are so full of surprises, those deviations can be the source of our personal magnetism, influence and impact.
THe point is to embrace your constraints, to savor the life you are living right now and live each day as if you knew these days were numbered. Time spent rehashing past
failures learning experiences is not only a waste, it’s counterproductive to you and those around you.
The story gets even better. It’s the sharing your
failures learning experiences with your audience, in your presentation, that allows those people to connect with you on a profound level.
No one wants to be friends with Ms. or Mr. Perfect. They’re just no fun — no one can identify with them.
If you’re giving a presentation that’s longer than 10 to 15 minutes, share a vulnerability or a foible with your audience, and they will love you all the more! If you can laugh at yourself (in public!), you have the world by the tail. The ultimate authority is someone with expertise and sufficient courage to share a vulnerability.
In my case, a lot of people who first hear me speak get the idea that I’m a flaming extrovert. (So not true, my ideal day is one with a book.) People tend to think I’ve always been a persuader and someone who stood up for herself. In reality, I used to be so afraid of confrontation I didn’t even hire my own attorney when I got divorced several years ago. I just accepted the terms my former husband presented to……just like that. (I still try to avoid confrontation but now I take extremely good care of myself.)
Sharing stories like these is empowering to your audience. They (and you and me, too) relate to highly imperfect people who manage to succeed anyway. What do you think?