Tunde Oyeneyin is an acclaimed Peloton instructor, Nike athlete, and New York Times bestselling author. Below, she shares 5 key insights from her new book, Speak: Find Your Voice, Trust Your Gut, and Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Listen to the audio version—read by Tunde herself—in the Next Big Idea App.
SPEAK is an acronym for five big ideas that have shown up in my life: surrender, power, empathy, authenticity, and knowledge.
Start with surrender. When you look at your life and the moments when you fully surrendered, you see that those moments led to change that led to growth. There’s so much beauty in uncertainty because with it comes infinite possibility.
Knowing what you know keeps you knowing only what you know. Doubt doesn’t feel good, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When doubt enters, it’s a course correction trying to make way. Rather than pushing away the doubt and causing internal friction or fire, lean into the voice to tap into the message that’s to be learned. Trusting your gut is choosing to lean toward the voice that propels you forward.
As a fitness instructor, when I speak of power, people think I’m talking about dead lifting or how much I can bench. When I speak of power, I’m talking about the tingly thing that you feel inside, not power as it relates to a desire to lead, but rather the drum beat that I follow. I connect power to purpose. A life well lived is a life led in service. When you live in purpose, on purpose, and of purpose, those are the moments when you’re most connected to your power.
“I connect power to purpose.”
I experienced this drum beat in a time of my life when I had to fully surrender. I was a makeup artist for 15 years, and I worked my butt off for my dream job. One day, I had the audacity to look at myself in the mirror and acknowledge to myself that I hated said dream job. This put me in a place of uncertainty.
I was visiting New York from LA when I decided to take a cycling class that changed my life. After my very first class, it was like this blue wave of energy moved through my body. Within a matter of five seconds, I knew that I’d be cycling for the rest of my life. Not only that, but I’d also be teaching. Without even knowing what Peloton was at the time, I knew that I’d be teaching on the world’s biggest platform, able to impact the lives of hundreds, thousands, millions of people. I was certain. It was like this hum that I heard and needed to follow. I surrendered to that moment. I could have said that I was dehydrated or hallucinating from the 45-minute class that almost took me out. Instead, I acknowledged the hum for what it was.
Leaning into the thought, the question, the doubt about whether I should leave my day job, caused me to realize that my life’s mission is to lead. This connects me to my purpose and power.
Empathy is rooted in love—not just love for others, but love for self. I think that I hated myself for the first 20 years of my life. Not all day, every day, but many days, and for many hours within each day. Learning to love myself brought me into a deeper connection with those around me. Having empathy with myself, learning to love myself, brought me into deeper connections with those around me. You cannot love fully until you know how to love yourself.
“Having empathy with myself, learning to love myself, brought me into deeper connections with those around me.”
Authenticity is the intersection of truth and trust. Trust yourself to show up as you are, knowing that you are enough and worthy. Often, we are told we’re too loud, too opinionated, too short, too big. I say, don’t shrink yourself to fit into small spaces. If the space doesn’t fit, find a new one.
I’ve spent so much time trying to be who I thought the world wanted me to be, or I thought my friends or my partner needed me to be. The issue with pretending to be who you’re not is that in difficult moments you have to ask yourself, how would this person perform? That gets exhausting. So again—if the space doesn’t fit, simply find a new one.
Every missed step or opportunity, everything that’s ever gone in your favor or not, has led to this moment. What if nothing is happening to you and everything is happening for you? When things don’t go your way, ultimately they actually are. When things don’t go according to plan, we turn around years later and can connect the dots, saying to ourselves, “Things had to go that way so that I’d end up in this moment. If that’s true, when things aren’t going my way, they actually are because everything is always going my way.”
“What if nothing is happening to you and everything is happening for you?”
Knowledge relates to every experience, informing the next experience. We audition for gigs or interview for jobs and often allow fear to hold us hostage. Imposter syndrome suffocates us as we forget how worthy we are. We forget that while we may not have held a specific position, every moment that led to this moment prepared us for the moment ahead. I was a makeup artist. I’d never taught fitness, and all of the skills that I developed in my previous career now play major roles in my day-to-day. My ability to connect with absolute strangers, my ability to educate and inspire and motivate—I tap into these skills in my various worlds as an instructor, motivational speaker, and author.
The fear of moving into these many new worlds almost overcame me. Reminding myself that I’ve been here before is what got me through to the other side. I was an overweight kid with low self-esteem and confidence. I hid myself, never laughing loud because I felt like if I laughed, people would see me. If they saw me, they would see how big I was.
It wasn’t until I showed up as myself and my full truth that I stepped into the greatest version of myself. Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell that young girl, “One day you’ll be a Nike athlete.” That achievement had nothing to do with the weight and everything to do with the decision to stop hiding.
To listen to the audio version read by author Tunde Oyeneyin, download the Next Big Idea App today: