Even though I have spoken in front of hundreds of people and been interviewed on television a number of times, there was a time when I was petrified, and I mean PETRIFIED, of speaking in front of an audience.
When I was in high school, I was in an advanced Spanish class where we read passages aloud in Spanish and then translated the story in front of our fellow classmates. The teacher, Mr. P, would take turns calling on each of us in class. I remember feeling so terrified of being called on that I would cower behind the classmate sitting in front o
f me while my palms moistened and my heart raced. When the 45 minutes finally ended and I wasn’t called on, I would take that long, deep breath, I was holding for the entire class period, to regulate my heartbeat as I walked to my next class. When it was an unlucky day and Mr. P called on me in class, I was so nervous my voice shook and I struggled to breathe. I was such a mess that he would save me and call on someone else. I felt ashamed and humiliated in front of my peers as they all stared at me perplexed and concerned. This is how my public speaking career began.
So what got me from there to here? It was a mixture of ingredients – training, practice, but mainly a determination that I was going to conquer a fear that I knew would hold me back in my life and my career. In my early 20s, I remember thinking that I could not let my fear of falling on my face in front of an audience define who I was and my level of accomplishment throughout my life. That determination placed me in positions that forced me to face my fear. That determination taught me to breathe. That determination taught me to not be afraid to fail, because on the other side of failure is success. That determination meant facing my fear got easier and easier as I demonstrated degrees of success. Those successes flamed my inner confidence. That authentic, homegrown inner confidence is the fuel that drives me, and all of us forward.
What do your fears look like? How do you challenge yourself? How does your determination help you?
Fuel your inner confidence.