There I was, on stage in front of 168 audience members waiting to hear what I had to say. A few moments before, I had found my hand shaking weakly at my side, with the mic switched off.
I wondered how I had even gotten myself into this. It was exhilarating! I was about to introduce an event that I had independently organized and welcome a slew of high-profile speakers to the stage.
In moments like this, I wondered, “How the hell did I get here? What did I do that opened up such opportunities?”
To better understand this, let’s back up 8 months.
I was a sophomore in undergraduate school with some friends, decent grades, and poor time management skills. I wasn’t complaining, but at the same time there wasn’t anything special happening either. I was a part of about five clubs on campus, but only went to one: entrepreneurship.
I had just joined the small group that year and took a very relaxed approach to the term participation. As I gradually became more involved, I learned about what things the club did on campus. In particular, there was one event, TEDxWooster, that required a lot of time and resources. When the student who brought TEDx to my small liberal arts school completed the event that year, she was about to graduate, so there was no one to take it over.
That is when everything changed.
For some odd reason, I felt the words, “I’ll do it” escape my mouth before I could close it. It was too late. They heard me. At this point my mind was racing. I was content with my not-so-involved life and I was getting by, so why did I just volunteer to put myself through 8 weeks of stress for an event I barely knew anything about? I could count the number of TED Talks I had seen on one hand.
I could have backtracked right then, but I didn’t. When they asked, “Really? You sure? You want to do this?” I replied a confident “yes” that hid the battles of confusion inside my head.
I had no clue how far the ripple effect would take me.
In the next year I faced daunting challenges that I had not encountered anywhere before. I had to promptly learn about contract management, navigating institutional politics, reaching out for funding, marketing on campus, social media marketing, event planning, and customer service. My boundaries were pushed way beyond their previous limits and I grew into a more actively involved individual who is determined to show others that they can do great things as well.
It all starts with one word: “Yes.”
Since then, I have traveled places and been a part of experiences that I never knew existed. It is the sole reason why there is even a post for you to read right now.
The next time opportunity knocks, take a deep breath and wait a few seconds before responding. When you respond, “Yes,” don’t be surprised when amazing things happen.