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The two words no one EVER wants to see on a feedback form?

“VERY POOR.”

And yet, I did.

It was just this past June. I mean, I survived, ‘n all, but still. Settle in.

I had been speaking at a conference in Florida. It felt fantastic. I was connecting with the audience and could even feel the naysayers coming around. There was laughter and tears of recognition and relief and a huge line of well-wishers after the fact. All signs pointed to #stellar.

So when the email came in with the results of the feedback form a couple of weeks later, I ignored my own rule about reading emails on the weekend as I was eagerly anticipating the sweet nectar of glorious praise. Because yum, right?

My eyes scanned the results, passed the rows of “excellent” and landed on the one “very poor.” I stared so hard it burned my retina.

I felt sick and I immediately thought of the pitch proposal ready to go out the next morning for another gig. My only thought was: Nope. Not gonna do this again.

Okay. Let’s pause here.

I’ve been at this speaking business long enough to know better and yet, I was hooked. 
I’ve been at this Impostor Complex work long enough to know better and yet, I was hooked.

Lie #3 of the Impostor Complex is that we are “all or nothing,” remember? So although this is my work, I keep coming around and around and around to it.

Clearly, I am sharing this moment of abject human-being because I know you get hooked too. It’s what we do. We want praise. And we want to avoid criticism. That’s just true. I've heard Oprah say that every single guest on her show (Gloria Steinem! Sidney Poitier!) over the years asked her how they did when the cameras stopped rolling.

So I got hooked, but I didn’t get stopped. Because that’s what the Impostor Complex would have me do. Stay out of action. Feel alone and isolated. Doubt my capacity.

Here’s what I did instead:

  1. I allowed myself to feel it all. The petulance. The snark. The nastiness. The shame. The disappointment. Then I tore my eyes away from those two words, closed them, and required myself to take in the truth as I felt it on that stage as well as the emails I’d received in the days that followed the gig. Sense of capacity restored.

  2. I reached out to a dear friend who facilitates a LOT. She had some wise counsel and plenty of compassion. She helped me to dig into the balance of the feedback and get to the honey of the evaluation. No one needs to do any of this alone. 

  3. And I made the pitch for the next gig. (Which I won.) Action for the win.

Happily ever after, yes?

It was. But still.

With all of that said? I’ll confess that it wasn’t until yesterday when I spoke with that client again who shared that I was, in the end, the top-rated speaker of the conference that I could fully receive the praise and glowing comments living in that feedback form:

  • amazing job

  • very entertaining

  • content was powerful

  • thought-provoking

  • SO IMPRESSED!!!

  • lively presentation style with great charisma

  • The content was INCREDIBLY relevant

  • This is probably my biggest takeaway of the whole conference

  • Tanya is a great speaker

  • LOVED her, the topic, the messages

So, yeah. I know better. But still so much for me to know much MUCH better.

In love and all humanness,

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This interview with Michelle and Nicole of The Sparkle Hour was pure delight. We talked about joy and grief and activation and sparkles and it was exquisite. (And they even said so!)

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I’m celebrating YOU. You made my birthday last week some kind of wonderful. Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.


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