I sat on the exam table at the doctor's office as he asked me about my health. We went through all of the usual questions. Then he asked me to describe my job. He asked if I ever speak in public. My body recoiled, "No," I responded, "I'd like to do that more, but every time I do, I think my heart is going to leap through my chest and my throat closes up. I have the same reaction when I introduce myself to a room of just five people sitting around a conference table."
Like many people, I had a fear of public speaking. I had taken a speaking course and had read volumes on how to overcome the fear, but nothing seemed to help. My doctor suggested that I try an adrenaline inhibitor. I'm not one to take prescription medication, so I rationed that bottle of little white pills. I had taken the last one shortly before launching the Courage Wall. Then I got the call from the TODAY Show asking if I would come to New York to be on live TV.
In a prior blog I shared that I was terrified and almost declined the offer. But if I wanted to lead a courage movement, I would need to walk the talk. I didn't have time to refill my prescription so I flew to New York, completely unsure of what would happen on set.
Guess what? I was ok! There was something that felt so authentic about the message I was sharing that my mind and body felt at-ease. I haven't even considered refiling that prescription.
This past weekend, I stood at the front of a ballroom full of people at the National Military Spouse Network's Roadshow in San Antonio, TX. I breathed calmly, made eye contact and felt confident about the two hours I would spend sharing my message. Just before I took the microphone, I noticed exactly how far I had come. I was proud of myself and knew that if I could overcome such a deep fear that I could inspire the audience to tackle theirs.
I was rewarded with comments on Twitter and via e-mail like, "This lady rocks!" "Blown away!" "Awesome message!" "I'm still inspired!" Those kinds of comments are always rewarding, but even more so after overcoming a life-long fear that had been holding me back.
Now, when I get the opportunity to stand in front of a group, I'm energized. I know that I'm going to inspire people to take bold actions. And I'm looking for more opportunities to speak to large groups (hint, hint).
Now It's Your Turn
Take a moment to reflect on the fears you've overcome. Celebrate yourself for looking fear in the eye and moving toward it. Pat yourself on the back for becoming bigger than your fear and not shrinking away from it.
If you're dealing with something right now that is holding you back from your biggest, boldest, most authentic life, try giving the Courage Formula a try:
- Identify the fear that is holding you back (in my case it was public speaking...which boiled down even further to a fear of people not liking me if I wasn't good).
- Think of a passion that is even stronger than that fear (for me, it's inspiring people to live big).
- Then, walk forward with that passion as your shield and slay that fear that's standing in the way.
Let me know how this formula works for you. I'm collecting stories to share via video and through my book (in development) to inspire even more people. I'd love to include YOUR courageous story!