When I got accepted to present my ideas at TEDxFSU this year, I was thrilled! My first thought was "oh my gosh they like my idea!" followed quickly by the terrifying, earth shattering doubt. "They're going to find out I'm a fake!" Why was this the first (well, almost first) thought to pop into my brain when something good happened? I call it the Myth of the Stage, and it's a big part of why we accept far less for our selves than we truly deserve.
So here is the Myth: The person on stage is right. The person on stage knows what they are talking about, and their ideas are valid.
Maybe this myth comes from our early days in a traditional classroom setting, listening to an all-knowing teacher. Maybe it comes from watching movies and documentaries. Wherever it comes from, you know you feel it in your mind. It's the same little part of you that says it's valid to pay over $100 to watch someone play an instrument onstage at Lincoln Center, when it's not worth giving a dollar to the man riffing on the guitar on a street corner. They both add music to our lives, right? But one is on a stage.
So this myth lives inside us, and it's part of what holds us back. If we are not on the stage, how do we know if we're valid? How do we know if we belong on stage? We can wait for someone to pick us. An employer, a casting director, a conference coordinor, can decide you are worth something and put you out there for the world to see. You shouldn't leave it up to them, though!
Here are my three reasons it's important to find your stage and start singing:
1. The Stage is Everywhere: Now more than ever you have the chance to set up your soap box, climb on up, and spread your message! You no longer have to wait for an editor to publish your ideas - just start a blog! You don't have to wait for a T.V. station to broadcast your idea - make your own video. In the age of the internet it is easier than ever before to connect with an audience. They might not all love you (there are trolls under every bridge, of course), but the more you share, the more you will find people who connect with what you are saying.
2. Most People Won't Bet on an Unknown There are those risk-takers out there who thrive on the thrill of something new and unknown, but in general, the people making the decisions about who gets hired, who gets on the stage, and who gets in front of the camera got their jobs by consistenty choosing correctly. Now, in a time where there are more people to hire than ever, these "pickers" are under a lot of pressure to make the right choice. Knowing you already have an audience you've connected with makes it easier for them to bet on you. If you're a band just starting out, booking agents want to know how many tickets you can sell. The same applies now for hiring agents, editors, and everything else! So just start doing what you do, build up a loyal base, and then you can get "picked" if you still want to.
3. Your Message Matters! If you have an idea, a passion, or a creation to share that seems totally out of the blue, chances are it's even more important than you think. It's hard to be the first one to try something new. You could fail, and you could end up looking stupid. But if it's something truly new, why would you want to hide it away? Can you imagine where we would be if Thomas Edison decided that an electric light was too risky? Or that people wouldn't be interested? Inspiration comes for a reason, and by keeping your idea to yourself, you're depriving the world of something that could be truly, truly awesome.
There are many more reasons than this to share your message, but next time you doubt yourself, remember The Myth of the Stage is just that: A myth.