To People Who Want to Step Up

A few weeks ago, I attended my eighth grader’s graduation where he stepped up … literally, stepped up … to the next bleacher. The only sounds I could hear were cheers and some hootin' and hollerin’ from yours truly. A moment that felt so significant, yet didn't even involve words. 

Have you ever let the opportunity to say something — at a gathering or event — pass? Where you wish you had expressed a thought, feeling, or sentiment but didn’t?

Or, perhaps worse, you may have spoken, but hadn’t taken the time to put your thoughts together, so they come out jumbled. A perfect little storm of, well, humiliation.  

(Humiliation is not what we’re going for.)

Summertime brings birthdays, weddings, milestone celebrations, not to mention team meetings or presentations. Family dinners,  dinners with friends, and possibly, just maybe, a few too many happy hours. 

Awash with chit chat, these moments can sometimes be a let down. What we need is someone...whether it is at a 'farm to table' or boardroom table to …step up. To pull people closer together.  To create a moment that feels meaningful. To speak to what matters. Why not that person be you?

The Rule of Three. The rule of three suggests that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, more effective, and more memorable. (See, I just said 4 reasons, and wasn’t that too much to retain?) The rule of three is a helpful framework for any kind of public speaking— or writing. 

So in case your opportunity to step up (with words!) is here, enclosed is your cheat sheet:

  1. Give Context: Everyone might know you but say why it is significant you are all together.
  2. Say Something about Them Not You: Highlight one moment or tell a brief story.
  3. Gratitude: Say thanks. Not the kind that your mother made you say when you were a kid. The kind that comes from your heart. It’s so simple but so easily forgotten.

Significant moments don’t just happen. Sometimes they are built into the fabric of our lives, like stepping up to the next bleacher and the next phase of life. More often than not, you need to ‘step up’ and make it happen.

'Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.' -- John Gardner. 


PS If you learned about stepping up & speaking up, please sign up to receive my monthly blogs.

Katherine Kennedy