We’re guaranteed two things in this life:
- Nothing stays the same
Now I’m not someone who has an easy relationship with the idea of death – far from it! But over the past 10 months I’ve lost my father, mother-in-law and aunt – and that’s made it much harder to push away the knowledge that I too will die one day (and those whom I love).
And along with that uncomfortable awareness, I’ve frequently found a new boldness to ignore my ‘what-if’s’, particularly in business, and take action anyway. You know them I’m sure – the nagging thoughts we all have when we move forward in our work. Things like:
- “they” don’t like my offering?
- I’m rejected/ignored/laughed at?
- I don’t get it right this time?
And it’s reminded me of Steve Jobs now famous Stanford Commencement speech, in which he said:
“…Almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, fear of embarrassment and failure, all these things just fall away in the face of death. Remembering you’re going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked…Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent.”
Here’s the video if you’re interested: his thoughts about death come at about the 9 minute mark.
For me, stepping out of my comfort zone on a consistent basis is no longer so frightening when framed in the awareness of my own death. I don’t want to look back and regret the things I didn’t do because I let fear stop me. That’s one of the reasons why I started this business, despite a huge amount of fear and ‘fish out of water’ feelings; I didn’t want to look back in older age and see that I’d not had the courage to try.
How about you?
If you’ve been putting off improving your speaking skills – or taking the first step – because of fear, you might like to consider using change as fuel, as a real opportunity. You already know that being a good presenter is a major gateway to having greater influence, impact, income.
Fear of making changes is usually fear of the unknown. I’ve got through many fearful moments by reframing them and telling myself that feeling afraid means that I’m growing. It may not feel good while it’s happening, but the rewards are worth it. Thinking about growing as a person – Otto Rank, early 20th century psychologist, believed that humans have an ongoing tension between two poles:
- The urge to grow and fulfil our potential
- The urge to retreat from the fear and vulnerability we feel when we do expand and step up
Rank thought that people move back and forward between these two poles for their whole lives. We’re always somewhere along that continuum.
So if you’re moving towards the goal of growing and expanding right now, and you’re reading this, it means that speaking in public can be a major growth area for you. If you take action, you’ll expand positively in ways you may not even have thought of yet. The ripples will affect other parts of your life too, and your world will never be the same again. I’ve done this (from a very low, incompetent base), helped others to do it, and I highly recommend it (I know I’m biased, but seriously, it’s just so worth doing!)
Here’s another article I wrote, which might also be helpful on this topic: 5 excuses which stop you getting help to improve your speaking skills
Let me know what you think! Helpful? Confronting?