If something scared the heck out of you in business, chances are it also scares your competition. As a result, run to your fears. Don't get too comfortable in life. Always challenge yourself and focus on continuous improvement.
When I was younger I was terrified of public speaking. This fear was holding me back and stopping me from growing professionally. I then did something radically different and incredibly uncomfortable.
I thought how can I challenge myself to conquer this fear while helping people? I decided to volunteer with my church and go into the prison system here in the San Francisco Bay Area and help mentor younger inmates that were incarcerated for minor drug/other offenses. I don't do drugs but I feel bad for these young people that didn't have parents or positive role models growing up and, as a result, committed a minor crime and are in jail; this could have been me had I not had two wonderful parents raising me.
I remember the first day I went into the Maguire Correctional facility in Redwood City, California. I was terrified while presenting to just a few inmates. I remember one of them had a tattoo above his upper lip that said #&@# you! I thought WTF (which means why the face) and how the heck am I going to get through this? It was uncomfortable the first time, but I came back again and again and again and I got used to it.
The seminal moment that helped me to conquer my fear of public speaking was the time I showed up at the prison on a Sunday and the priest that was supposed to conduct mass and give the speech before communion didn't show up! I was told by the warden that I must give a 20 minute speech to the inmates with literally no time to prepare.
I was so terrified. The speech according to the Gospel lesson was supposed to be about faith, hope and confidence in yourself. I stood up there in front of many incredibly intimidating inmates and started speaking. I was able to wing it and a few minutes later I started enjoying it.
I will never forget that moment as I told them this: "Do you believe in God?" They all said yes. I then said "Does God believe in you?" They all said yes. I then closed the circular logic by saying "Well if you don't believe in yourself then do you really believe in....?" They were blown away and speechless as was I (I was humbled of course).
I thought to myself if I am comfortable speaking in front of the most intimidating audience I could ever possibly present to, then I could conquer my fear of public speaking in business settings. Since then I have been on many panels and been the keynote speaker at events ranging from 400 to 1000 people and I love it! It has helped me to take my business to the next level.
None of us were born great public speakers You need to practice a lot as repetition is the mother of all skill. Steve Jobs was the best presenter I have ever seen in my life. However, watch this video of Steve Jobs in his first televised interview (he was just as nervous as many of us early in his career when it came to presenting):
I have met with many successful entrepreneurs that ran to their fears and are more successful because of it. Here are 10 more examples:
- Overcoming the fear of being intimidated by financial statements.
- Overcoming the fear of cold calling.
- Overcoming the fear of being anti social (the death nail in business) by setting up informational meetings.
- Overcoming the fear of learning how to use computers and coding.
- Overcoming the fear of golfing with clients.
- Overcoming the fear of taking a career risk.
- Overcoming the fear of competing with a larger company (David always beats Goliath).
- Overcoming the fear of leaving the company you work at and starting your own company (with frustration comes career business breakthroughs).
- Overcoming the fear of asking for a raise or a promotion (you will never get them unless you ask).
- Overcoming the fear of lacking confidence, which will materially hurt your chances of success (in business confidence leads to perceived competence).
I was able to conquer my fear of public speaking forever and I now thrive and really look forward to public speaking and being on panels. Who knew that my biggest fear in life would become my biggest source of enjoyment. Please run towards your business fears starting today as your competition will not; turn a weakness into an enjoyable strength!
We need to change the lens for which we see the world.