Who cares what the audience thinks?
The stand-up comedian Louis CK does a great piece on embracing loneliness. It's worth watching this clip to see CK’s inner confidence as he makes comedy out of such sensitive topics as deep inner aloneness and overwhelming sadness. The response of the audience and the show’s host (Conan) is often nervous – the atmosphere is uncertain – is this funny or serious or what? But CK is just rock solid and grounded in his material. He’s been there and done his homework. He’s genuinely faced some of his difficult feelings and come out the other side a stronger and wiser person. So wise, he can be funny about it. He so KNOWS he has a point to make, it doesn’t actually matter what the audience thinks. Even if that audience is several hundred people in the studio and millions worldwide on the TV.
We don’t all need to turn experiences like that into performance material like he does, but we can learn from his example - that allowing ourselves to feel our feelings rather than repressing them creates core inner strength and unshakeable confidence.
And we can learn that leadership often entails moments where others are not sure, not convinced or totally behind what we have to say. There are times we need to ride the wave of uncertainty that arises in our listeners, so that the doubt they are experiencing doesn’t cause us to doubt ourselves or the value of our contribution. It can be uncomfortable for a moment when we realise that we don’t have the full unconditional support of everyone in the room, but if we allow ourselves to just feel that discomfort without letting it take hold, those moments will pass.
The magical thing is that when we are internally grounded in our own conviction, when we can withstand the challenges of different opinions and sometimes heated debate, people tend to come around.
And then they applaud.