My Adventure On Reality TV

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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I have always said that my career has not been so much a result of hard work and strategic planning, but random doors that opened and I walked through them – with closed eyes and held breath. Add another adventure to my list of random open doors. Reality TV.

I already wrote a blog post before it happened – explaining how it arrived at my door. If you missed it, here’s that post:

The show is The Fashion Hero ( and will be airing in 2017. I will give you more details as I get them. Today I just want to share how it felt to play a part.

Where do I even begin? The entire four-day process was overwhelming, surprising, exciting, grueling, challenging, and fun fun fun! Anything I did expect to happen was completely dwarfed by the countless things I didn’t expect to happen.  Rather than bore you with every detail, here are the highlights of my experience and what I learned from the whole endeavor. I can’t share show details, but I can share what the experience felt like and meant to me.

  • First of all, this was divinely timed. It wasn’t as random as I would like to think. It couldn’t have happened any earlier in my career. I wouldn’t have been ready. Every single thing I have done as a speaker has led to this moment. Every radio, podcast, webinar, live interview I have ever done (and there have been hundreds) all prepared me to be ready when they said “action.”  Every job that was less than ideal, taught me to be ready for any setting and any task I was asked to do. Every audience made up of diverse people, taught me to talk to every kind of person from every walk of life.  Every hand I shook and neck I hugged over the years, taught me to open my heart to strangers. Every speech prepared me to speak live without getting a second chance, and to run with whatever was thrown my way.  Every speaker I met who embodied the wrong attitude, taught me how to act humble, gracious, and NOT like a diva when my moment came. Every encouraging family member, friend, speaker peer, audience member, social media friend, built in me the confidence to know this is my gift and to trust it.   And the fleeting nature of life, and the message instilled in my heart, reminded me that this moment would only come once- I could choose to go through it afraid or dance through it. I chose to dance.This adventure took every skill I had developed, and then some.  Proving to myself once again that things happen when it’s time. Doors open when they are meant to open. We don’t want them to open too soon or we won’t be fully present and prepared.So if you’re waiting for your “big break” or something to happen in your life – just trust that it’s coming. It will arrive at the perfect time.  I promise.
  • Speaking of prepared – it PAID TO BE PREPARED. I spent hours and hours thinking and chatting and writing about beauty.  I treated this like I was going to go give a speech on inner beauty. Even though I wasn’t hired to give a speech. Not in the traditional way to which I’m accustomed.  Because I had prepared to such a degree, I had talking points instilled in my heart. I knew my stuff. I wasn’t hoping to give a right answer. I was speaking my truth.  I was fully prepared. I have always given most of the credit for my career to the work I put into my craft.  I can not count all the moments I write and practice and rewrite and practice. And rewrite. And practice. It never ends. I never stop. I never take my foot off the pedal. I work on jokes. I work on stories. I work on talking points. I work on how to move around a stage. I work on eye contact and interacting with the audience. I never stop soaking up ideas and knowledge on how to do what I do – SPEAK.I had no idea everything they were going to ask me to do. But I was prepared for every single thing, because I had been preparing for it my whole life. What they thought was magic, was nothing but work and dedication to my craft.As you struggle to sell your dream, market it, package it, present it to the world – don’t forget to give the product you offer as much attention as the selling of that product. Too many people are out there trying to sell their way out of the chorus line.  You can’t outsell a mediocre product.

    If you need extra encouragement, go watch the documentary “This Is It” that captured Michael Jackson and his team working on the last concert he never got to give. Watch how much attention Michael Jackson himself paid to every single moment on that stage.

  • I chose to see every moment as an adventure, not a challenge. It was hard to do because I was dropped into a world I couldn’t have even imagined. The cameras alone were enough to scare me. All the people running around with headsets. Hundreds of pieces to this amazing puzzle. Everybody with a task and a job to do.  It was sink or swim. And I decided not just to swim, but to splash and play. How we frame the moments we are in make so much of a difference – especially when cameras are on you ALL THE TIME. There were several “big” moments that I did not see coming. In these moments time froze and I stood there choosing between fight or flight.  I gave myself a pep talk and chose to fight every time.

    Are you in that moment right now?  If so, then hear me when I say, “You’ve got this. Take a deep breath….and FIGHT.”

  • I decided to do me, not a better me, a skinnier me, a funnier me, a smarter me….just the me who had brought me this far. I asked questions when I had them. Made jokes. Made friends. Made people laugh. I was the professional who knew my stuff. I sought out weary spirits to lift.  Soaked every moment as if it would be my last.  Every new face was a potential for changing a life. Every camera was a portal into a soul out there somewhere in the world who needed to know that she (or he) was created with precision – a gift to the world – a beautiful soul. Sometimes when we’re in new places, we wait for people to come up and make us feel included. Those are the moments when we should fight that wallflower complex, and start walking towards someone else. Even if it’s simply to look them in the eye and smile.  You be the outgoing friend. I promise it will pay off. And, for the record, EVERY SINGLE person I met treated me like their new best friend. Seriously. Every single one, from the drivers to the make-up and hair people, to the cast, to the producer, to the host of the show, to the designers.  They treated me like a queen.  I felt love every single moment. Not what I expected. Again….a little divine intervention I suspect.
  • I didn’t make it about what I looked like or appeared liked on television. I made it about the audience. It’s what I do in my shows, so it’s what I did on television. I wasn’t talking to cameras or lights or producers. I was talking to the people behind the cameras, the people in the cast, the people watching at home.  My mission was not to look good on TV. My mission was to reach a heart.  I refuse to think about how big I looked BEFORE the camera added ten pounds. I refuse to think about whether I sounded stupid or used the right words. I refuse to make this about me. The message matters to much. They chose me to be a role model for people who look like me. Check. My outfit or my accent or my butt – completely irrelevant. Too many people are holding themselves back from their dream because they are afraid they don’t “look” the part – because they have somehow connected beauty to worth and acceptance. You don’t owe ANYBODY pretty. Your clothes, your jewelry, your makeup, your style – are as trivial as what color you choose to paint your house.  Beauty is defined in different ways in all parts of the world. Beautiful people become ugly when they are mean and treat people bad – or when there is nothing below the surface. People you wouldn’t consider beautiful, become amazingly attractive when they can make you laugh – make you feel happy – cherish you.  Do pretty people get more breaks? Maybe. But only a few. And only in some places. At the end of the day, we don’t love people for their complexion or their size. At my funeral, I imagine people will be standing around talking about how I made them feel. I doubt one single person will say, “It’s just a shame she couldn’t get down to a size six.” I truly believe that we crave beauty because we really crave to be loved and accepted, and we think beauty gets us love and acceptance. It doesn’t. That’s a lie. Your soul makes you loved and accepted.
  • Something in me shifted. I didn’t get this feeling that I was about to become famous, or that big opportunities were coming, or that I should start shopping for cars I can’t spell. I got the feeling that something had shifted. That I had moved from “performance” to “legacy”.  That I had moved from a marketable career, to a life’s calling.  Suddenly how I wrap all this, is not as important as the message waiting to be whispered.  I went from feeling like a talented performer, to having been called for such a time as this.  In a weird way, I have become more invisible, as the message flowing through me takes over. It’s a wonderful freeing feeling.There was also another shift. I got this feeling that suddenly I had crossed over to a new place where I was completely free. Invincible. I had been given a much heavier boulder to carry on my shoulders for four days. And now anything else you give me is just a rock. I saw what I was capable of, and it was more than I could have imagined. Now I am free to stop judging myself – to stop wondering if I’m good enough for that next audience. Now I can truly fly.

    If someone is offering you a boulder to carry – a new opportunity is opening up and it scares you to death – I’m not saying it’s always a yes. But I am saying that you are capable of more than you know. And if they see something in you, then perhaps they know what they’re doing. Trust that this might have been divinely timed, and that the universe is opening the door that should be opened. And YOU have been the one chosen to walk through.  Treat it as the humbling gift that it is. And whatever you do – feel beautiful with every step.

Thank you, Fashion Hero, for choosing me to be a part of your movement. I am humbled. I am blessed. I am changed. And even more important, I realize what truly makes me beautiful, and it has nothing to do with what you see.

It’s the soul that makes you beautiful. The rest is just window dressing.
Kelly Swanson