What Fear Should You Face?
When preparing to record the next FrogDog Marketing Minute, I recalled to a colleague my father’s program of filming my book reports each morning throughout elementary school. As a litigator who had gotten recorded and critiqued for closing arguments during his legal training, Dad thought the exercise would help me get over my fear of public speaking.
Aside: Before my mother moved out of my childhood home, the remaining, mostly unlabeled VHS tapes stayed stowed in a drawer in the game room. In the last one I remember watching during a trip home, I wore pink pajamas as I talked through an autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt and leapt off the fireplace hearth between takes.
I suffered from crippling shyness until I forced myself to shed it in young adulthood—so I started well behind outgoing kids in the speaking regard. Thanks to Dad’s videos, my starting point had to place higher than it would have otherwise, once I put my shoulder into gaining confidence about speaking.
And, without video book reports, who knows how much longer it would have taken for me to gain a foothold in business, where I’ve had to regularly give sales presentations and speak at conferences and before groups. When you start a company, you must speak up.
No options. Sink or swim.
Today, though I’ve had colleagues and friends balk at standing in front of cameras and audiences, I walk right off the pier. Though I don’t like seeing myself on screen or hearing my voice (do I really sound like that?), I’ve gotten over myself.
Because, let’s be honest:
Obsessing about your appearance on camera or in front of an audience presumes that people pay the same amount of attention to you that they do to themselves—and that you pay to yourself.
And they don’t. As I’ve outlined before on this site, people worry so much about themselves so much of the time that they don’t have enough bandwidth to pay too much attention to someone else.
Further, with the remaining bandwidth people have to notice anything other than themselves, they notice your attitude more than what you say—whether for good or ill. Sound confident, speak with authority, and carry yourself well. Done.
Yet I wouldn’t know any of this if I hadn’t had public-speaking practice starting in elementary school, which I continued in college and graduate school and then forced on myself through my choice of career. Most people never practice what they hate—even though the more you do something, the better you get.
Without question, looking away feels easier than facing a fear—even if conquering it could transform your life. I know overcoming my fear of speaking up gave me the only way toward success in business.
And so I wonder: What else should I face that I avoid out of dislike or fear?
What skills do you need to practice? And how can you get the practice you need?