Scott Sonnon knows what is involved in taking a hit. In preparing for Tedx he faced the hardest one of all.
What does it take to scare a champion martial artist? What challenge could make an accomplished speaker speechless?
The answer is facing a scarring past and sharing it for all to see. Recently we showcased Scott Sonnon’s Tedx talk on redefining genius. He spoke movingly on the importance of accepting learning styles beyond the standard testing range.
This was not just an impassioned plea to understand and reach out to children, this was a man reaching back into the past to address the needs of his own childhood. He opened up about what the preparation and road to getting ready looked like and this is what he had to say:
“Announcing to the world that I had once been locked as a child in a mental hospital for my learning difficulties, my fear blanketed me. What if I lose everything – my reputation, my livelihood, my family’s income – for revealing that a doctor had once – even if as only a child – declared me mentally unfit? I had known I wouldn’t surrender to that darkness because even if only ONE parent of one child heard the message, it would be worth any risk. But it felt overwhelming, infusing every word of my talk with terrifying reluctance.
I had blacked out my entire performance, because I had been occupied with fighting off that dragon within me, purging it from my soul over the course of those 13 minutes. It required 187 rehearsals for me to memorize my talk so I could be free to do the internal work to be truly authentic. I had to go into an emotional battle in front of a live audience.”
My mother had once told me, “You can’t reach what’s in front of you until you let go of what’s behind you.” I realize now that the one little boy I had been trying to reach had been much farther away than I had anticipated and much closer than I had expected: across decades of miles and yet standing in my shoes. I had to let go of that lifetime of fear in order to be whole and do my real work: to help others realize and express their own unique learning styles.
I did battle on stage with my own demon, and protected a boy who had done no harm and deserved to feel safe without having to pretend to be something else, so that he could own the perfection of his own uniqueness. That is all I could dream for my own children and is my greatest wish for every other who suffers the doubts of their personhood.
After decades of fighting, I have come to discover the hardest fight in life is to be transparently vulnerable but it is also the most liberating. The strongest we can be arrives when we make ourselves most vulnerable, when we unequivocally declare… We are innately perfect always and already. Unbroken and without defect. Delicately beautiful but utterly safe to express our uniqueness.
If you enjoyed his talk and the road to get there please take a moment to recommend the video.
Read more about Scott Sonnon