Hey, Mr. Spielberg!Have I Got a Script for You!

I’d rather be shot at dawn than play a game of Pictionary. Sure, it’s supposed to be a fun game, lighthearted and full of endless, squealing delight, but here’s the deal. I don’t draw. Not publicly, not privately. Not ever.


Because long ago and far away I decided that I was no good at drawing or painting or anything that resembled visual art. I’m not sure when or why I made this decision, but I did. And as a result, I don’t draw. Or, rather, I won’t draw.

Yet to this day, I envy people who can draw or paint. My friend, Jim, for example, and Tony Bennett, both who paint amazingly well and love doing so. And I’ve always thought it would be a blast to be a cartoonist. But there is no way that I will allow myself to even experiment, because my internal script says “Nope. No way. Can’t do it.”

We all have these internal scripts we’ve written for ourselves, scripts that define the character we call “I” or “me.” And from what I can tell, these scripts are based on certain decisions we’ve made about ourselves as we’ve bopped along on this journey of life. The longer we travel, the longer we recite our internal scripts without ever stopping to question if we like our lines or if this character is who we really are.

So, let me ask you now, what script have you written for yourself in regards to speaking or performing in public? Does your internal script say, “Oooo, I love to speak in front of groups! It’s a total blast! And I’m really good at it.” or does it say, “Public speaking sucks. I hate it. And besides, I’m no good at it.” Whatever your script is, it’s based on a decision you’ve made about yourself at some point along the way. Like my decision that I’m no good at drawing and therefore I can’t (won’t) do it.

There is nothing wrong with the scripts we’ve written for ourselves. They help us define who we are in this life. And much of what we’ve written is positive, strong and helpful. Scriptwriting only becomes a problem when what we’ve written keeps us from “living into our greatness,” as Kim George says, or keeps us from having what we truly want for ourselves. Or keeps us in a small, less than supporting role in our own lives.

So, when you listen at your own internal script around expressing yourself in public, do you like what you hear? Is it allowing you to live into the fullness of who you really are, or is it keeping you safe and small behind a boundary of excuses?

A script can sound like this: “I’m too shy.” “Oh, my voice doesn’t project loud enough.” “No one wants to hear what I have to say anyway.” I really don’t have anything to say.” “I’ll just make a fool of myself.” “I don’t’ know what I’m doing.” “I’ll forget what I’m supposed to say.” “It’s just not for me.” “My speech teacher in high school told me I should stick to writing.” You get the idea. Perhaps your internal script is a variation on one of these or perhaps it’s something different, but you do have one. We all do.

Anytime I conduct a Unconditional Confidence workshop, it never fails. A participant will take their turn to speak in front of the group and will end up mesmerizing everyone with their honest, natural charm and authenticity. But when I ask that same person about how they felt about how they did, they launch off into a list of negative judgments, like “Oh, I couldn’t stay focused and I didn’t know what to say, and I’m sure I said “um” too much…”

This list of judgments always echos this person’s internal script. Always.

It doesn’t matter if the rest of the group showers this person with tons of positive feedback. They can’t receive it or give it credence because their internal script is shouting a different story. This is where our scripts get in our way, keep us from moving towards what we really want and who we really are. They keep us quiet, scared and small.

But if can we can loosen our attachment to our old script and start to play with the idea of re-writing it to fit who we are becoming, who we really are in our heart of hearts, then anything is possible. You don’t even have to know what your new script will be, you just need to be willing to question the pay-off for keeping the old one around.

What would happen if you let go of the script that says you always get nervous or distracted when you speak in public? Or the one that says no one wants to hear what you have to say? Or the one that says you’re not as interesting or as knowledgeable as you should be? What if you let the old script go and start drafting a new one, one that would allow you to live out loud, fully and fearlessly?

When Kim George writes about scriptwriting in her book, “Coaching Into Greatness,” she says:
“It’s all a great big story — a bunch of hooey that’s defined by a big pile of “shoulds” that sit on an even bigger pile of “can’ts.”

What’s the script you recite to yourself about speaking in public? Is it moving you closer to your dreams and goals or does it have you stuck in a trench of excuses and old habits of thought? It’s okay, whatever it is.

But if you’re feeling a little typecast by your present script, if the lines in your head don’t fit the dream in your heart, then just know you can rewrite your script any time you want. Because it belongs to you. You are the writer, director and star in your own story, so write yourself a masterpiece that is worthy of who you really are.

3 replies
  1. James
    James says:

    Hi Nancy, I just wanted to say thank you! Today I successfully delivered a full day workshop to a group of 14 professional writers on how to edit their work and couldn’t have done it without you. Even with extensive teaching experience I still find that I’m terrified by public speaking. Listening repeatedly to your “Engage Your Audience: How to Create an Authentic Connection in all Your Communications” CD for the last few days gave me some sound advice and helped to calm my nerves. It WORKED like a charm! Your advice was excellent – I may not have been the most dynamic speaker the world has ever seen, and I couldn’t hide the fact that I was nervous – but I was present, available, and myself. And most of all, I was too interested in what they had to say and how to help them with their work to have time to listen to the usual negative self-talk scripts and obsess about looking or sounding like an idiot. The workshop was a success and may lead to further work with some of these writers on a freelance basis. THANK YOU!

  2. Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net says:

    I love it – just like Tuck said, what a great sense of humor and enthusiasm. Identifying and choosing not to believe the little voice in our heads is one of the biggest things we can accomplish. Thanks.

    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
    Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.


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