little story, big stage
I stand on the wooden platform fifteen feet off the ground, gripping my guide’s hand for dear life. Below, murky cold water, but I can’t see it. Through the blindfold all I see is blackness, a ball of anxiety in my throat. My guide counts: “One, two, THREE!”, and my feet leave the platform.
SOLO is my racing nickname, and I have been competing in extreme endurance for five years. My friend who is an ultra runner, and who only has 8% vision asked if I’d be her guide in Tough Mudder, an obstacle challenge based around facing your fears. It features heights, ice baths, barbed wire and electrocution. I do the event blindfolded, so I know the kind of instruction Rhonda will need. Before I guide someone else, I should be able to do this.. well.. with my eyes closed.
Few months later, Rhonda received her orange finisher headband, and became a Tough Mudder. With her lips blue, and her teeth still chattering, she turned to me and said: “That was the worst freaking thing I have ever done. I’m so happy I did it!”.
Few weeks ago, I attended the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland, OR. [Read about one of the main lessons I learned, and what it has to do with Air Canada here]. Imagine Urban Burning Man meets TED for weird people, and you’ll have a good idea of what we have here. Superhero camps, hugfests and glowing balls. Like this:
In addition to inspiring talks, and dozens of meet-ups, WDS also has a number of attendee stories – all are welcome to submit a story via the event app, and FIVE of those stories end up on the main stage.
Put me in a crowd of 1,000 people, and, of course, I will find a way to be the centre of attention. Even if for a few moments. What you see above is my story – some of you may remember Operation Light Within.
Surprisingly, this was a pretty nerve wrecking experience. I am quite comfortable with public speaking (college professor, hello!), yet it was the tight time limit that proved to be the most stress-inducing. All speakers were to whittle down their stories to a strict 60 second limit.
That’s where Marsha, a storytelling coach (yes!!!) came in. She helped me cut out everything, but the essentials, then cut out some more, and make sure the story was visual, punchy and dynamic. [She wrote about the five storytelling lessons she took away from coaching us here].
During a break, many came up to me for a high five. This WAS a fucking great story. It was nice to have a reminder.
Little story, big stage.
Or is it big story, little stage?
Me thinks, the latter.
Guess what? You can actually watch all five stories here: