What does it mean to be relevant? About two years ago, my friend and I were talking about a mutual friend. After I filled her in on my most recent conversation with him, she said, “He was involved everywhere, but he just doesn’t seem to be relevant anymore.” For some reason I let that go without sharing my disagreement, but I thought of it often. Wasn’t he still relevant? By the definition in an article in Inc.com, it seems we’re all relevant. It stated what makes a someone relevant is “being the kind of person on whom others depend, whether for leadership, expertise, acumen, or emotional support.” Relevance is in the eye of the beholder.
In a conversation with that same friend last year about my challenges in certain areas of the anti-trafficking movement, I shared I wanted to remove myself from the situations that triggered me or where I felt I wasn’t using my talents or connections. I would continue my advocacy in coaching survivors and advocates in their speaking and presentations; that’s where I felt I offered something they couldn’t find anywhere else, it helped them, and it fulfilled me. I told her I had resigned from one task force and was considering resigning from the state coalition. I support them both, but it was time to “pass the mic.” She responded, “I just want to suggest you re-think that. You want to stay relevant in that area.” I stayed on at least 6 months longer than I planned because of that warning—I certainly didn’t want to be irrelevant—but I felt relieved and at peace when I finally listened to my inner voice and resigned.
In yet another conversation with my friend, it wasn’t long before she said about a person we were discussing, “I can’t believe how irrelevant he is—I never thought that would happen to him.”
Those three conversations led me to consider what it means to be relevant. According to whom? Are those friends we talked about irrelevant or content? You can be relevant without chairing every committee, or attending daily events, or running a huge company. High visibility doesn’t equal relevance.
Do I want to be considered relevant by others who judge by their points of view, or do I want to listen to that voice, whispering to me, “You don’t have to fear missing out on anything. You are enough. Design your advocacy in a way that fills you and helps others. Be as visible or invisible as you choose.”
I decided that if I’m relevant to my family, to my friends who keep me tranquil instead of triggered, to the sweet little boys next door, to survivors I coach to tell their stories safely and confidently, to anyone who connects to my documentary, and to those who one day hold my book in their hands, I can rest easily and joyfully.
Do you know and value your relevance?
President, The Zen Speaker
The benefits of becoming a calm, confident and compelling speaker extend far beyond the stage. Whether it's in the boardroom, a sales meeting or a professional networking event, your public speaking skills will propel you forward in your career and throughout your life.
4-half day virtual, group coaching sessions are guided by Amy Ayoub. Classes begin Friday, April 7, 2023