Megan Washington: Why I live in mortal dread of public speaking | Talk Video |

Megan Washington: Why I live in mortal dread of public speaking | Talk Video |

Megan Washington took her stutter to the TED stage.

Try to imagine the kind of courage that takes.

Ms. Washington isn’t what you’d call a superstar–I had heard her name before I heard her TED talk, but I hadn’t heard any of her music (come to think of it, that might be true even if she were a superstar). But she’s well-enough known to be making a living as a musician, as a singer, to have several albums and singles available on iTunes.

And she stutters. Not profoundly, not cripplingly (is that a word?), but noticeably.

She took the stage at TEDxSydney in April, speaking frankly about her journey and some of the techniques she has used to work around her speech impediment. I don’t know whether she was known for having a stutter before her talk or not.

So an internationally-known performer went to the most famous venue in the world for public speaking–and stuttered. Knew she would stutter. Her stutter was the purpose of her talk.

That’s a little bit like a veteran linebacker going to the Pro Bowl and revealing he has tremors in his hands. It may not affect his ability to play football–but it certainly affects his ability to do other things. And it opens the floodgates to all the cowards on the Internet to pour out the scorn and ridicule they would never share to his face.

And it just might help somebody. Some young girl with a big dream and a handicap may see Ms. Washington’s example and realize chasing the life she wants may not be so impossible after all.

Courage like that changes lives. Let’s all follow Megan Washington’s example.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.