How you choose to react to ‘it’ is the difference between growing and freezing.
Allow me to illustrate with a personal story.
Years ago I had a fear of public speaking. I’ve been challenging myself to move past this fear and not allow it to stop me. For the most part I’ve been doing a great job.
When I committed to overcoming my fear of public speaking I was not 100% convinced I could actually do it. I frequently tolled myself that it didn’t really matter if I succeeded but that I had to give it my best shot. I allowed myself to practice again and again. First in front of groups that did not know me well, and as I gathered my confidence I started speaking to groups that ‘mattered’ more to me.
Recently I had a speaking engagement after a break from speaking that had lasted several months. Initially I was relatively confident that all would go well, after all I had successfully spoken to several groups that were extremely pleased with the outcome. I had even reached a level of confidence that was reminiscent of someone who had moved past her fear.
The big day arrived and my talk was in the evening.
I reviewed my notes early in the day but noticed my nervous energy and panicking I started to make changes to my talk.
I tried preparing again and again but the anxiety continued to mount.
I tried centering myself and felt shaky most of the day.
I tried spicing it up and it continued to lack the passion I like to bring to each event.
What was I to do?
I couldn’t bail out at the last minute. I started praying for an emergency that would allow me to cancel without the shame. This unfortunately did not happen.
The moment arrived and the room stood still. As I spoke to this group of women, I could sense my energy and theirs. Noticing my discomfort and confusion merge with theirs was a horrific sensation. I wanted to be swallowed up by the pavement I was standing on.
This talk was flat – boring – and completely unlike any talk I’d given to this group. They were just as surprised by my jitters as I was.
To put it bluntly - I fell flat on my face. The big F had reared its ugly head again in my life.
It’s never pleasant and in my particular case I have a nasty voice in my head that does it’s absolute best to shame me.
Allow me to share a sample of what I hear:
“You are terrible. You bored the hell out of these people.”
“I suggest you give this up immediately before you make an even bigger fool of yourself.”
“Who do you think you are anyway? I tolled you that you suck at this.”
“Stop embarrassing yourself. This is ridiculous.”
“These people think you are a fool.”
“I think you should stop showing your face here.”
Needless to say, I had trouble sleeping that night and I could not shake the negative self-talk.
By morning I started to believe most of what I was telling myself until I coached a client later in the day. Thank God for my clients.
She was struggling herself with a Failure (her own version and flavor) and I heard myself saying,
You Can Choose.
You can choose how to react.
Do you become small, hide, and give up? or
Do you choose to cut your self some slack and use this experience to grow.
Do you allow a bump in the road to freeze you in your tracks or do you keep going?
Once you take the time to realize that only by failing do we learn and grow, you can begin to ask yourself the what, why, and how with kindness and curiosity:
What can I do differently in the future?
How did I lose my courage or confidence?
What happened to my enthusiasm?
Why didn’t I connect to the audience?
How can I better prepare for next time?
What got in my way?
Investigate the reason behind your failed attempt and get back on the horse a.s.a.p. Remember your conviction, your new knowledge in hand, and your mindset will be with you every step of the way. You can absolutely do this. Now Go Do It!
Do you keep forging ahead?
If you are like most of us, the F word scares the **** out of you.
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