I recently traveled to Palo Alto to give my first Tedx talk.
It was a new kind of experience for me, and I had been working hard on my little fifteen minutes for several months.
(Of course I would never, ever end my practice sessions watching Brené Brown’s Netflix special and lamenting how I would ever be one fraction of how good she is. Don’t worry! Repeatedly comparing myself to one of the world’s most masterful speakers with decades of experience is 100% something that I DID NOT do).
During the rehearsal the day before the event, one of the speech coaches reminded me to slow down toward the end:
People need a moment to process each idea before you move into the next one, she said.
Take a moment to let things land.
You know the way people can give us a small nugget of constructive feedback and we immediately translate it in our brains to mean: everything about what you are doing is a total failure and you are a complete lost cause?!?!?!
I wish I could say I know better, but the truth is I had walked into the rehearsal determined to give a flawless performance that required zero feedback, and I also felt wildly embarrassed to be getting the same note I have given to so many actors, creators, and clients over the years.
I guiltily remembered my own advice:
Stick the landing—regardless of how you feel about it.
Own your presence in the space between words—this is where the magic happens.
Une chose a la fois (I learned this incredibly helpful phrase in a mime class I loathed in grad school—it is French for one thing at a time).
When my dramatic moment finally abated and I was able to process her useful feedback, I realized how afraid I was to let things land, and how this experience (like every new and uncomfortable experience) was going to demand a confidence, courage, and acceptance upgrade.
We are afraid of letting things land because we are unpracticed in accepting that our presence in the moment is enough.
We ineffectively think that by rushing right into the next moment or idea, we will somehow make up for all of the parts of ourselves we are afraid other people won’t like—somehow eliminating the chance of a negative response that could hurt us, or make us feel out of control.
Letting things land means taking up space, trusting ourselves, and allowing ourselves to be seen exactly as we are.
Letting things land means leaving space for the magical, unpredictable, electrifying exchange that happens when we allow energy and ideas to flow between us and our audience.
Letting things land is a superpower in the digital age—and maybe even the gateway to our next creative breakthrough.
The pace of our culture can lead us to believe we constantly need to give more–more words, more ideas, more energy—when sometimes the most transformative gift we can give to our audience and the people around us is to allow them freedom and space to have their own response.
We can practice letting things land when we…
- Pitch an idea in a meeting without immediately pitching 4 additional ideas.
- Clearly say who we are or what we do without contextualizing or trailing off.
- Receive a compliment without apologizing for ourselves.
- Stand proudly beside our finished creative work, even when there are things we wish we could change.
- Name our fee or rate and then pause.
- Delegate something to someone on our team without micromanaging.
- Tell the truth to someone without looking away.
- Edit and cut the clutter in our creative work to make room for its essence.
- Give a gift without downplaying it.
- Name a boundary without minimizing it.
- End our days without bulldozing into the next or agonizing about what we didn’t accomplish.
- Tell someone we love about what we need or how we feel and release control over their response.
- Honor a big milestone, life event, or change before we rush onto the next thing.
Where in your life and work can you let things land?
May you have the courage to trust that your presence–exactly as it is in this moment—is both a power tool, and a gift.
Here’s to letting things land and the magic that’s possible when we do.