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What you can learn from a Koi fish...

A Koi fish in a pond

I've always been fascinated by Koi fish. They bring me such peace, and I can easily spend hours just watching them gracefully swim. There's something about their boldness and fearlessness that I truly appreciate. They don't apologize for taking up space. They are present.

During my early 30s, post-divorce and on the mend, I was lucky enough to rent this incredible Victorian carriage house in downtown Denver. And guess what? It had not one, but two stunning Koi ponds right in the backyard. I made it a ritual to sit with my morning coffee and connect with those beautiful creatures.

But then, life took me to an older part of town in Lafayette, Co., when I met my now-husband. We decided to build our very own Koi pond, even though we had no clue what we were doing and mostly relied on YouTube videos for guidance. It was an adventure, but soon enough, we encountered a heartbreaking moment. We found a dead squirrel among the fish, and that ended my morning cup-o-joe with the Koi. We ended up giving away the remaining fish to a florist down the street who had an amazing indoor pond with not a squirrel in sight. There were other reasons that led us to cover up the pond, but that unfortunate furry tree dweller sealed the deal and made us give up.

Regardless of my pond-making mishaps, what occurred to me, was just like those Koi fish who faced obstacles and kept pushing forward, you too must persevere if you want to excel at something, like becoming a great public speaker.

In Japan, there is a myth of a koi fish who decided to swim upstream to attain enlightenment. As the koi traveled on its journey, moving against the current, it encountered many obstacles. In turn, it overcame each one, growing stronger and more sure of its journey. Despite the unrelenting pull of the river downstream, the koi struggled onward and upward eventually cresting a mighty waterfall and was transformed into a flying dragon, free from the bondage of the relentless river. This mythological story, like most mythological stories, serves as a fitting metaphor: if you want to succeed as a public speaker and presenter, you must keep showing up, no matter what obstacles you encounter along the way. When you do, there is no doubt you will grow into a dynamic and present speaker who inspires those around you.

I look forward to seeing who you will inspire next.

But for now, I will go and pour myself a cup of coffee and enjoy the pigeons on my fire escape. I am sure there is a metaphor in there somewhere😉


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