Is fear keeping you from success?

Ask yourself this: Are you a procrastinator? Are you the type of person who puts of what could be done now to do later? If so, why are you putting off __?”. Is it laziness, lack of energy, or is it something deeper, fear?

I realized a long time ago that I am the type of person who puts things off until the last minute. I am a procrastinator in every sense of the word. It’s my one trait that I fight against constantly. To give you an example, I spent most of December 23rd shopping for Christmas presents and all day on the 24th wrapping.

However, I did a lot of soul searching when I started to think about why I put certain things off. What I came up with was a realization that I do it because I’m afraid. I’m not talking about the kind of fear associated with a horror film. I’m talking about the unknown outcome of an action.

For most of us, that can relate to a fear of public speaking. What is the unknown outcome that is causing us to hold back? What is it about getting up and speaking that causes so much fear, anxiety, panic, and pain? Part of it could be attributed to a fear of the unknown outcome of actually putting ourselves out there for others to judge.

However, with most fears there is a way to control it. With public speaking, the cure is….. just do it. I know this sounds over-simplified and somewhat blunt. The best way to learn how to control your fear is to get up and speak. I know this sounds like a catch-22: “I’m afraid of speaking, so I don’t speak. But to control my fear, I need to get up and speak.”  There are things you can do to help minimize your fear and help you learn to control it (keep reading, you’ll see what I’m talking about).

This brings me to heart of this post. Are you putting off speaking in public because your are afraid? Is this your reason for procrastinating your success? Think about this: how has avoiding public speaking (in any form – giving a presentation at work, delivering an oral report in school, teaching a skill to others, etc.) hurt your life? Is it keeping you from promotions at work? Is it keeping you from getting good grades in school? Is it just something that you want to conquer but don’t know how?

Again, the suggestion is simple and somewhat terrifying: Just Get Up And Speak! You don’t have to start with a 3 hour presentation. Start with something small. Volunteer to give a 3 – 5 minute talk at your next meeting or in class. Keep it short, simple, and to the point. You could also join a speaking group to help you build confidence by giving short structured talks.  By giving your mind and body a chance to succeed with small victories, you will begin to feel more confident. This confidence can lead to some serious side effects: Less Fear, More Success.  You can then start to move on to bigger and better speaking projects.

When I first started speaking, I was terrified. What I noticed was I was less scared the more I spoke. After a while, I barely felt the negative side of the fear. I still get anxious and a little nervous when doing a new presentation.  But that is more of an excited feeling than fear.  You may be able to get to that point in your life as well.

I like quotes. They’re short, simple, to the point (like your 3 – 5 minutes presentations you’re going to do). I’m going to end with a quote from one of this nation’s most famous First Ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt (who was extremely afraid of public speaking). She said:

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.

Speak Well.

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