Confidence: What exactly does that mean?
It's always been an ambiguous word to me, in line with the likes of “success” or “business orientated technical solution mechanisms.” Used so much we’ve developed a blindness to it—a worn out cliché riding on the coattails of its former self.
That’s all it ever was to me. And why not? It’s not a physical, tangible item I can slap in front of your face and yell “YOU SEE THAT!?” I wish it were. It would make my job a lot easier.
But let me tell you something. I have discovered what the word once meant.
By the end of this post I want you to understand that it is real, and that if you want it, you can have it.
Walk with me now…
First Date With Fear (Public Speaking Variety)
Over 3 years ago I came face-to-face with the greatest fear I never knew I had. It was an intense fear of public speaking. When I say that I never knew I had this fear, it’s not to say that I was ignorant of quotes like these:
“There are only two types of speakers, those that are nervous and those that are liars.” - Mark Twain
Or this one courtesy of Jerry Seinfeld, “...This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
I knew that it was a common fear of other people, but surely not me. Have you ever been dead wrong about something? This was one of those times for me.
The night I found out about the seriousness of this fear, I was sitting in a Toastmasters meeting. If you don’t already know about Toastmasters, it’s basically an interactive workshop where people go to practice public speaking in front of a live audience.
I was a first-time guest and I was just there to scope out the joint when suddenly I found myself scrambling to get out. Let it be known that guests aren’t obligated to participate, but at this meeting the emcee began asking the guests (there were others besides myself) if we wanted to give it a shot and speak in front of this unfamiliar crowd.
My mind and body initiated a mutiny against me. Heart pumping, butterflies soaring, muscles tensing, self-doubt and other self-conscious thoughts sprung up like a package on Viagra.
Those sensations only intensified as I watched each of the other guests walk up, face the audience and do it. Peer pressure had me in a full nelson, leaving me no choice. I couldn’t back out now. I’d only end up doing what the fear of public speaking was protecting me from to begin with...looking like a wuss (or a fool).
But an out I was given, courtesy of father time which thankfully ran out. I got out of there as quickly as I could.
That was it, when I felt it for the first time. The funny (or tragic) thing is, I didn’t even do the thing I feared. I never spoke to that audience, yet the fear of public speaking became my inseparable twin.
I left thinking, “What would it be like if I actually had to speak?”
Overcoming The Fear And What It Means For You
My only goal from that point on was to do everything in my power to never feel that way again. The options were either stay home and avoid public speaking altogether, or confront it.
I chose to confront it. It took some serious time and research, and not only that, I had to cut ties with my ego entirely. Accepting the possibility of making mistakes wasn’t easy, but necessary. [Find out how I was able to shake the fear]
So, bottom line, I did the “impossible,” or at least that’s exactly how the fear made me feel about it. Now what?
Sure, I could now comfortably speak in front of an audience. Sweet deal, right? Sort of. The truth is, I didn’t have a need for it. Not in my job nor any other place. It was like having a million bucks but no place to spend it.
What the hell was the point, then?
As mentioned, I didn’t really need the skill of public speaking. You might, and in that case this will be even more valuable to you.
Here’s a math equation for you:
EC + OEC = UC
This is what it means:
Extreme Challenge + Overcoming Extreme Challenge = Universal Confidence
It’s as simple as that. Universal Confidence means a prestigious belief in yourself that you can take with you anywhere. Lately I’ve been referring to it as the Confidence Hat and here’s why:
When you overcome that fear, you can of course do public speaking. You can enter the room where you’ll be giving a presentation, put on your Confidence Hat, and deliver your speech. BAM!
The next day an opportunity you would have turned down in the past appears right before your eyes...you put on your Confidence Hat and you take a chance. HIYAAAA! A week later an idea for a book comes to mind, with the momentum flowing you again reach for your Confidence Hat. Your journey to write a book begins. POW!
The first step toward any goal is the most important, and that’s why it’s the most difficult to take. The Confidence Hat gives you the courage to take that FIRST STEP.
Conquering the fear of public speaking can reward you with your very own Confidence Hat. Are you willing to do what it takes to get it?
I Can Prove It To You
How many cases of near-death experiences have you heard about that have transformed the life of that individual?
Their perspective on life changes, and with it they stop fearing life and instead start living it. It’s the comparison factor. It’s like “Wow, I almost died. And I’m worried about being judged by others?” This is the principle behind conquering the fear of public speaking.
For some, it’s as dramatic as a near-death experience. The survival system kicks in just as if one were truly fighting for dear life! Science agrees.
I want to give you one more example in case you still have your doubts. Have you heard of Tony Robbins? The 6’ 7” motivational guru who loves talking about personal power?
He holds these retreats and seminars where people pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars to attend. Surely, they learn many things, but they also do something that might sound funny to an outsider.
The attendees walk across a patch of hot coals! Yes, hot coals. Why would Tony Robbins have them do that?
Because he knows something that I know (he probably learned it first...probably). He knows that when people do something they didn’t think possible, they gain an enormous belief in themselves. Or more precisely, they earn a Confidence Hat to take along with them in the game of life.
It's not mystical voodoo, it’s real.
Let's Wrap This Up
There are more straightforward reasons for overcoming the fear of public speaking. I get that. Things such as presentation looming for [pick your poison: work, school, business, church, sales presentation, etc.].
Maybe you already speak on a regular basis and you're simply tired of feeling like a nervous wreck every damn time you have to speak. A worthy reason indeed.
All I’m saying is, there’s an unseen, potentially life-changing perk that awaits you on the other side. Whether you choose to overcome the fear of public speaking for that perk alone, or as an added bonus, that’s your choice to make.
Just know that it exists. I bet you'd look mighty fine wearing your Confidence Hat.
Get the word out and share this post. The more Confidence Hats the better!
About this guy...
Howdy! My name is Matt Kramer and I used to suffer excruciating death when speaking in front of a group, now I LOVE it. Overcoming this fear has changed my life and it can change yours, too. My focus is to help you overcome the fear of public speaking so you can build the confidence to go after what you want in life.
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