In 2014, I was asked to do a TEDx Talk—I immediately said YES, and then panic and fear set in:
‘I don’t know how to do a TED Talk, what do I have to talk about, what happens if I forget my speech and stand in front of 3000 people in silence? What if no one likes it …’ and the list goes on.
But here’s the thing: I had committed, and it was happening.
So I followed their very helpful prep protocol, and at that time, you presented under a theme. For me, it was ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’. It took me so long to figure out what I was going to talk about because I was never one of those people who had it figured out – I am still not one of those people! I reflected on my life up to that point, and concluded that the common thread of all of the experiences that I had previously said yes to, was a result of my gut instincts.
The next step of the process was to create a framework around that conclusion. So I asked myself -‘Why is it that I have such sharp gut instincts?‘ or one would say ‘ great intuition.’ And what kept coming up was that I was good at listening to myself. Ok – so I now had some context to what my presentation could be about – but what was it that allowed me to listen to myself?
At that moment, my cell phone beeped, and I looked at the notification from Instagram and at that moment, I figured it out. My work was constantly being interrupted by me stopping to check my social media feed. This was it. I needed to talk about Social Media, and how damaging it can be for one’s focus, creativity, and intuition.
My TED Talk came alive, ‘Finding the Me in Social Media’. The talk would be about how social media impacts the decisions in our life and how potentially damaging that could be for someone. It forces us to compare and compete and make decisions based on other people’s perspectives. Ultimately who we are putting out to the world is a collage of other people’s ideas and thoughts. So the question then becomes, how do we stay committed to our authentic selves? How do we make decisions for the future that are purely our own and not influenced by others?
Seven years later, this is still a challenge, if not even more so as we now have Tiktok and Snapchat and Facebook…so many social outlets to be influenced by. It comes down to awareness – being aware of how much time you spend in other people’s lives, how many choices you make because of something you see on social media, what kind of judgments you make about people (who you don’t know!).
After awareness comes connection – connection with yourself through exercise, practicing a hobby, breathwork, meditation, Committing to taking the time to get to know yourself, so that your choices for the future are made from a place of authenticity.
And the last piece is sharing. Sharing real moments in real-time with real people – without the smartphone involved. Storytelling, laughing, passing gas … any type of interaction that involves being human. After all, we are human beings and spend more time being human. As I write this I now remember saying this in my TED Talk. I guess all in all what I would say today would not be much different than I said 7 years ago. I also know that all of those people could relate to the message I was trying to convey – after 18 minutes of the most terrifying experience of my life, all 3000 people stood to their feet and applauded with such authority. It was at that moment, I realized that I do have something to talk about, in fact, I have a lot to talk about and I’m so humbled that people want to hear what I have to say.