A number of years back, I landed in California for a corporate event where I was to be a VIP guest at. Comfortable and excited for what the weekend was going to bring, I got a call while collecting my luggage from one of the company execs asking me to come directly to the office. I was really looking forward to getting a chance to see my colleagues and friends prior to the event so I gathered my things, got my rental car and headed to the office in Orange County.
As soon as I arrived, I was introduced to our resident expert on the new product we were launching, that had just flown in from Singapore. Super excited to hear first hand about this product and get the inside scoop, I settled down for our discussion. Imagine my surprise when the first words out of her mouth were: ‘We have had a hiccup, the person we hired to present this new product to our 2500+ guests has just quit due to a fear of public speaking, she simply cannot or will not get up on stage to do the presentation!’ Considering the event was due to start that very night, and knowing this product was on the agenda first thing the next morning, I was confident they had a solution in place and so sat back to hear the game plan and simply asked: ‘So who will doing it?’
You can’t possibly guess what my face looked like when the next words I heard were: ‘YOU ARE!’ My mouth went dry, my hands got clammy, and I stuttered: ‘Me?’ ‘Yes, you, you are our only hope and so we better start your training right away.’ Please note that I had no expertise in this category of product, did not know any of the presentation content and up to that moment had never been asked to speak in front of any group larger than about 50.
To say I was full of fear was putting it mildly. Then I remembered I had two choices: I could run from my fear OR I could walk through it and do the best I could given the circumstances. I chose the latter and we got to work immediately on training me and having me meet with the event people to learn the process of stage presentation, and all the things that go along with that.
Deep in my gut, I knew that walking through this fear was conquering one of the top fears people face of public speaking and my experience had always been that walking through fears always spring boarded me in to areas I never dreamed possible. So 16 hours later, as I was mic’d up and preparing to walk up the stairs, with trembling knees and a strong desire to turn and run, I remembered the words of one of my mentors: Lara, you can face everything and get results OR you can forget everything and run. Knowing my life has been a series of facing my fears and that this would be no different, I walked up the stairs and walked through my fears.
I can’t tell you the rush I got from looking out at the almost 3000 people and the calmness that came over me when I began to present. The presentation went off without a hitch and my confidence was built just a little but more through the actual experience of public speaking. More importantly, it was this specific event and presentation that landed me an opportunity and a contract to begin sharing my story and experience globally that commenced three weeks later. Who knew what was waiting for me on the other side of this fear. There is no telling what opportunities I may have missed had I not been willing to walk through this fear.
So, ask, yourself, have you ever been stopped in your tracks due to a fear of anything? Is it possible that if that fear hadn’t existed for you, your opportunities may have expanded faster or with more ease? Do you believe it is possible or even realistic to eliminate your fears? Now, finally, is there a way to use your fears to your advantage?
Having had this experience now, I often draw on it when I talk about understanding fears and walking through them. People want to know that you get what they are going through and not just that you are telling them what they should do. So, I use my fear based experience and share it with the people I mentor in the hopes that they might learn from it and avoid any pitfalls caused from running away from fears. I know personally that walking through my fears has grown me in many ways and that I apply this knowledge in everything I do.
Moral of the story, remember the wise words of my mentor:
You can FACE EVERYTHING AND get RESULTS (F.E.A.R) OR FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUN (F.E.A.R), the choice is quite simply up to you.
Remember, DREAM BIG cause small dreams have less magic!
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