A seed has to break off its cloth to grow and become what it is supposed to be.
I recently went for a Toastmasters (an international public speaking forum) meeting after a very long time. As is usually the case, being a guest, I took a seat in the last row. The meeting was being carried along quite well. Gradually the first section where speakers deliver prepared speeches got over.
Then was the turn for the impromptu speaking session where even interested guests would get an opportunity think on their feet and speak to on a topic. I have always loved this part as a regular Toastmaster since the guests can get a chance to experience their potential even when they are not a member of that club. And have always encouraged guests to use the opportunity to stand up and speak.
That day, I was the guest! Damn! And this, I realised the moment the first session was about to end. My mind started to race. “What are you going to say? You don’t even know the topic they will give? What if you make a fool out of you? What if you spoil your image?”
And then my second mind said, “Which image? What are you trying to protect? What will this lead you to?”
Pat came the reply from the other side of the mind, “Static! Without growth you stay and stale! And no growth means death – isn’t it?”
I immediately stood up for the opportunity. I was prepared to put down my protection and get naked. So, I didn’t stagnate and grew a little more!
How often do we take a step back when an opportunity shows up? Thinking what if it goes….? What if we fail? What if we are unable to perform? What if people see that? And that I too have some fear? What if ….. ?
So many individuals stagnate in their personal and professional life. Just because they refuse to explore and are scared, “What if this happens?”, “What if that happens? And the world starts looking at me as a failure?”
Have you ever thought along these lines? Trust me, people in the world, like you and me, themselves are trying to fight their own demons, the internal dialogue that is always pulling them down. So, it’s always better to choose to rise to the occasion, rather than shying away due to some invisible fear.
That day in the Toastmasters meeting, the best part was, once I rose up to speak, the fear of being seen and being mocked at, and all other kinds of stupid self-talks succumbed to my courage. And that happens to everyone! Once you show up and face your fear, that’s it! It can no more stop you.
That day I faltered and saw myself destroyed in front of everyone, right? I was naked.
A few laughed, few others didn’t! Does it matter? Not sure!
But what I am sure is that I grew a little more. As I have already been naked, I now further think about how to improve my speech to the next level rather than thinking about what others will think or say. Somebody has rightly said that all your fears of losing something vanish once that particular event happens in your life. “Once you reach the rock bottom it’s the best place to be at, as the only way you can move is upwards.
Fear is often with us only until you face it. Once you face it, the same fear becomes your best friend enabling you to prepare better for similar scary event the next time. A quote along similar lines by Steve Jobs says, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Another great part facing your fear and getting naked is that you are then set free. Nothing can stop you. You have already been there, done that! And, if not altogether, you can surely deal with those fears one at a time. The technique would usually be the same – first, think the worst possible scenario and be prepared for the same, but don’t pause. Next, dial to your courage when you already did something small you were scared of, and start taking baby steps. If you are terrified of public speaking, start by just standing behind the podium and getting the feel of it. Gradually, start taking bigger steps and finally your day will come.
After this teeny tiny fear is done, go for a tad bigger one! And step ahead with similar strategy. To tell the truth, once you are done, you will look back and laugh your heart out thinking that you too were someday scared of it!
Graduate, Post Graduate and Doctorate from IIT, BHU Dr. D. Rai has more than 46 years of research & academic experience. His career spans across the industry and academia from playing the role of Head of Department at Research & Development Center for Iron and Steel to being the Director for reputed management colleges. He has published 65 research papers and filed 5 patents and 7 copyrights. He plays the role of an Advisor and Chief Mentor at Ripples Learning.