When The Obstacle Is In Me

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The other day, Mark Le Blanc, my wonderful business coach, reminded me that, as a motivational speaker and presentation skills coach and trainer, I am always and only one big toe ahead of the clients and audience members I’m trying to inspire to greater fulfillment.

He’s right of course.

Every day I try to motivate other people to stand out, be heard and move forward in their lives and careers. And every day, I do the very same thing to and for myself. I motivate the motivator, which, I admit, can sometimes be a daunting task. Some days I’m brilliant at it. Some days, I’m not. Some days, I fight what’s outside of me: unexpected circumstances, limited budgets, other people’s recalcitrance. Some days I fight what’s inside of me: limiting messages from my childhood, ingrained rules about what’s “nice,” or “right” or “polite” for me to do or say; fears of rejection, of not being liked or accepted. And I assure you, the obstacles I face inside of me are a lot more sneaky, insidious and potentially debilitating than anything coming at me from the outside.

On my darkest days, when I let the obstacles inside of me stop me from moving myself forward, my husband loves to gently point out that I am not walking my talk or practicing what I preach. “What would your clients think, if they heard you right now?” he’ll ask, as I mope around, seized and stuck by fear or despair. He’s right, of course. But I can’t help hoping that my clients might think “I do that stuff too! Eleni’s human after all!” And maybe they’d take me even more seriously. Because I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, any credibility as a motivational speaker, trainer or coach, if I didn’t know first-hand what it’s like to get sidelined by inner and outer obstacles, and moving forward anyway.

I’ve spent my entire life as a creative artist (and yes, I consider my current path as a speaker and trainer to be just another variation of my lifelong journey as a creative artist) motivating myself to stand out, be heard and move forward in my career, in spite of obstacles. And there have been obstacles, boatloads of obstacles. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the word “no” from someone in a position to hire me either as an actress, a touring singer and songwriter, a speaker and a coach and trainer, well, I’d be in a position to buy a nice little tropical island somewhere. I am, however, convinced that all those no’s – and all those years of moving forward in spite of them– are what give me the chutzpah to think that I have the right to speak about following one’s passion and purpose to it’s fullest potential, in spite of obstacles (inside and out). And that is what helps me face down the fear (of rejection? of being too pushy?) as I pick up the phone to call an event planner who could potentially put me in front of my ideal audience: A bunch of women just like me who want to stand out, be heard and move forward, in their lives or in their careers. Whether they’re facing obstacles from the outside. Or from the inside.