In a rather sudden turn of events, I found myself on a plane to Geneva on [a recent] Monday.
I’ve never been to Geneva, so I was thrilled at the opportunity, but also slightly terrified at the speaking engagement set before me. This was my first interaction with the UN system and it was entirely fascinating – thousands of people meeting, speaking, writing, setting policy.
I woke up the morning of the speech feeling vaguely nauseas and very nervous. I walked into the lobby of the hotel where the event would be held later that evening and I printed a few notes. I sat down feeling overwhelmed and underqualified. I knew I needed to recalibrate.
I’ve carried this phrase with me since I was tapped to talk: “presence and authenticity matter more than planning or perfection.” I turned the words over in my head a few times and noticed the parallel in my feelings to a moment during a recent race. I consciously replaced wishing I had prepared more with gratitude for the opportunity to speak about something I care deeply about. The knots in my stomach started to release. The fear was still real even as I approached the podium, but I took a deep breath and reminded myself of how grateful I was to be present, to have a voice.
A posture of gratitude allows us to summon the courage to show up. It offers us a sense of perspective and the ability to acknowledge the fear and then move through it. And, perhaps most importantly, gratitude allows the clarity to see through fear and understand that what is in front of us is a precious gift.