The Day I Decided to Stop Pretending

UntitledAuthor Dr. Michael Hudson

What happens when you realize that you have achieved what you wanted, but recognize that you’re not fulfilled? The work you are doing seldom fits your definition of great work, the typical day looks nothing like what you envisioned when you started, and you’re beginning to wonder how you got here.

I remember the moment I acknowledged that this was my reality…it was November 10, 2014 at approximately 10:30 am Mountain time when I decided to stop pretending.

A Bit of Background

On that day I was at the Broadmoor Resort Hotel in Colorado Springs attending the 2014 Platform Conference. I’d come to the conference with the intention of figuring out where I was going to take my personal platform building efforts after reading Michael Hyatt’s book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

It was a decision I had been pondering for almost a decade, but probably not for the reasons you might be thinking.

You see, just over 20 years prior to the conference I had left the academic world to pursue a full-time career of speaking, coaching, and consulting.

And I had done just that—successfully building and sustaining a multiple 6-figure business for over 15 years.

But deep inside I had always felt like I was pretending. And that started long before I left the academic world.

Recognizing That I Didn’t Own the Game I Was Playing

The underlying problem was that I neither owned, nor fully understood, the game I was playing.

If that sounds a tad cryptic, perhaps it is, but here is what my reality had always been: I defined success in terms of what others defined it to be and never gave myself permission to define it for myself.

The result?

I did and said all of the right things. I leveraged my knowledge and skills to serve others and deliver value. I found a way to do work that satisfied the clients even though it often didn’t satisfy me.

More important, I never took the time to really assess what was driving my success.

Revealing the Common Thread in All My Work

That’s why when Ken Davis took the stage and shared his story I sat mesmerized.

Here was a man who had devoted the last 30 years of his life to doing what I most enjoyed about the work I was doing—speaking, sharing ideas, and helping others develop their ability to communicate more effectively.

And that’s when it hit me.

The common thread in just about everything that I have ever done in my professional life was about that same thing. Whether facilitating a planning session, coaching a leadership team, or working one-on-one with an executive, my go to approach was always about communication.

Sometimes it was about crafting the message that needed to be delivered to drive results. Other times it was about honing the presentation skills of the leader. Often it was about helping people get comfortable sharing their ideas and enhancing their abilities to do that.

But while it was the primary focus of virtually all of my work, it was never being discussed or communicated (pun intended).

Think about that for a moment.

The core thing that I believe mattered most was not at the center of my work.

Talk about a light bulb moment and a painful revelation.

Realizing How I Got to Where I Was

When Ken’s speech was over I walked outside onto the patio and called my wife.

Overcome with emotion and unable to speak for the first couple of minutes after she answered, I stood with tears in my eyes as I tried to compose myself.

You see Ken’s message had moved me at a very deep level. He had touched something within I had long ago forgotten.

When I was a child I was petrified to speak in public (you can read about that here), and it was only when I overcame that fear that I finally started to create positive results in my life.

What I hadn’t realized until that moment is that my overcoming the fear of being onstage had unlocked my real gifts and liberated me. Being able to step in front of a group of people, share my ideas, and push them to think differently was all that I really cared about.

And frankly, it was all that I had ever done in working with my clients.

Deciding to Stop Pretending

When I was finally able to speak I told my wife that I had “just heard a presentation that was going to change my life.”

I explained that hearing how Ken had used speaking to connect with people and change their lives by improving their abilities to communicate was something I realized was at the core of my very being.

If I was going to be serious about creating the impact I was intended to create, then my work had to shift: What had always been a part of what I did with my clients had to take center stage, literally.

It was time to stop pretending and commit to what I believed in my heart of hearts—that being effective in communicating your ideas is the key to achieving any result you are seeking.

Moving forward that would become the center of my platform and the focus of my work.

In That Moment Everything Changed

Satori is a Japanese Buddhist term for awakening, “comprehension; understanding,” and that is what I experienced the moment I spoke those words to my wife.

The clarity, sense of purpose, and focus that came over my mind in that instant led to amazing results. My business doubled in 2015, answers to questions began to appear in my life, and my vision finally came into focus.

Will You Accept the Challenge?

If you’ve read this far, then chances are the idea of deciding to stop pretending has resonated with you. So I would like to invite you to accept the challenge of making that decision using this simple 3-step process:

  1. Recognize the degree to which you own the game you are playing. Do you ever feel like you are pretending or doing things that feel disconnected to your talents, abilities, and beliefs?
  1. Reveal the common thread in your work by examining what you do that really engages you and gives you energy. What are you doing in those moments and how it is impacting the people you are serving?
  1. Realize how you got to where you are and understand what it means for where you want to be. What path did you follow and what decisions did you make that merit rethinking?

A Couple of Overdue Heartfelt Thank Yous

I would be remiss if I didn’t close this post by thanking the two people who created the moment I decided to stop pretending. THANK YOU Michael Hyatt for writing Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World and for putting on the 2014 Platform Conference; and THANK YOU Ken Davis for sharing your message that day. By convincing me to stop pretending you changed not only my work, but also my life, and for that I will be forever grateful.

An Important Bit of Advice and Encouragement

Whether you feel you are ready to stop pretending or you just want to improve your abilities to communicate, I highly recommend that you take an action step that I took in 2015 as a result of hearing Ken speak: Sign up to attend the SCORRE™ Conference. You can read about the impact that event had on my life here—it took what I have been doing for over 30 years to a new level and gave me a framework that I use every day. From my perspective it is a MUST ATTEND event (and one that I would return to again this year if I weren’t speaking elsewhere that week). You can learn more about the 2016 event here. (When you sign up use coupon code MHUDSON to receive a $100 discount.)

It’s Your Turn…

I would love to hear your thoughts on this concept and to know if you have accepted the challenge…because I know that I am not the only one who needed to make the decision to stop pretending in order to pursue the work I was born to do! Please post a comment and share your insights. 

You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Dr. Michael Hudson is a teacher, speaker, writer, facilitator, coach, & ideapreneur who helps people discover their vision, write their story, and speak their vision into existence using his proven VisionSpeaker™ System. Visit 52SpeakerSecrets.com to download your free copy of Michael’s ebook filled with practical insights you can use to increase your impact every time you speak.

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2 thoughts on “The Day I Decided to Stop Pretending

  1. Thanks for your encouragement!

    I will be taking your challenge and applying it to my gifts, talents, and personality.

    Have been helping people get things done for many years, including teaching online college courses (I’m done with formal teaching now.).

    Hence, my involvement with helping Veterans (I am a Vietnam Vet). Also, I volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol helping kids with leadership and discipline.

    Just finished writing two programs to teach to others. One on leadership and the other on speaking/communicating. Hope these will be work well with my speaker strategy.

    I decided in 2016 to begin a formal speaker career and just write supporting information products. My helping others seem to get in the way more than I thought.

    Again, Thanks!

    • Gene,

      Congratulations on your decision regarding your focus in 2016, and thank you for taking the time to share it! I applaud your taking the first step and accepting the challenge to deliver upon your gifts! Well done on creating two courses and best wishes for success with them.

      If I could offer one additional piece of advice it would be to initially pick one of them and focus on using it to connect with relevant audiences. It is good to have two options (and perhaps more), but initially you and the people you connect with to get your speaking career rolling are better served with a clear focus…allowing you to go deeper versus wider.

      My recommendation is to start with the one that you are most passionate about–the one that brings you to life and makes you want to share so much that you can’t help but talk about it in every conversation. Passion wins every time and when people hear that passion they buy-in more quickly and want to help you share it with others.

      Here’s to your success!

      Michael