I remember trembling while speaking. Holding my paper, damp from my unsteady hands, I read my notes in front of the class. Public speaking. Blech!
Nothing was less appealing than that.
Often I would enter this surreal, deer-in-the headlights, feeling when faced with talking in front of a group of people. So many times, the memory felt hazy. Like I was a breath away from passing out. Actually, the feeling of passing out was probably because I wasn’t breathing at all. Too panicked to breathe. Oh deer! 😉
I was fortunate to take a wonderful public speaking class in university. I was forced to speak every week. A curious thing happened. I began to open up, the shaking lessened, and my confidence soared.
The act of practice, that was the magic key to being able to speak in front of others. The only way through it, the only way to get better, was to do it.
There are some things that can not be learned from reading. No amount of studying from the (illusion) of safety will bring the experience that practice will.
At some point, you must try, make the attempt. And fail. Yes. The risk of failure is there, and high. But even failure is better than hiding. Particularly if we want to pursue a worthy goal.
Sometimes following our path takes us into the ‘uncomfortable-but-necessary’ zone. It does not (yet) feel natural, we don’t know what we are doing, there we are, feeling raw, vulnerable, maybe even frightened.
The new, but necessary, skill is waiting there for us to keep practicing. To not give up, to not fear starting, to persist throught the efforts of the ego to convince us we don’t really need to, it would be easier if, why don’t you just sit down for a while.
If we can keep going, keep showing up, keep leaping, we begin to see change. This change might be subtle at first, barely a whisper. But then, possibly over night, everything is somehow easier. It clicks.
Now, I love speaking to groups of all sizes. I love the idea of reaching more and more people with this work, which I am so passionate about. I find it inspiring now.
This did not happen overnight. It was a process of practice. Many, many years of practice, failure, patience. I kept on going because I felt it was necessary. Even though I didn’t like it, life kept throwing me in these situations where I had to speak. I got practice.
In the midst of showing up is a huge benefit: the power of practice is that it makes you truly powerful. Everything becomes doable. Everything.