The Only Thing They Don't Know

Last week I drove to the Bay Area on Thursday in preparation for an all-day workshop at Stanford on Friday. Over the past few months I’d been co-facilitating this workshop with its creator, but Friday would be my first solo 7hr presentation. All day I’d been oscillating between excited and nervous, both of which showed on my face when I popped in to see Jack - one of the world’s best chiropractors and a total gem of a human being.

Following my adjustment Jack shared a story that moved me fully out of nervousness and confidently into the adventure of Friday’s presentation.

“When I was a graduate student at San Francisco State University in the late 70’s I was selected to give an upper-division, semester-long Biology lecture class on human sexuality. The class had 400+ students in it and had been taught for years by my mentor who was, by far, the greatest lecturer I had ever heard.
On my first day of class I stopped by the men’s room and as I was standing in front of one of the urinals the department dean sidled up next door.
He said hello and asked how I was doing. No eye contact, of course, cardinal rule – eyes straight ahead. I told him I was fine, but a bit nervous as I was about to lecture for the first time to 400 students.  
‘Why are you nervous?’ he asked. ‘You know your material and the audience has no idea what you’re going to say. If you mess up, only you will know - so don’t stop… just keep going and you’ll be fine. Remember, the only thing they don’t know is what you know.’

On Friday morning I walked the tech support person to the door and she asked if there was anything else I needed. I looked back through the window etched with “Stanford University” at the 14 department heads and muttered, “The only thing they don’t know is what you know.”

“I’m sorry, what was that?” she said.

“Oh, nothing.” I smiled, shaking my head. I thanked her and walked back into the room.

“Good morning!” I said confidently. “Let’s begin.”