It’s my favourite day of the blogging week – Self-reflection time.
This week I faced one of my real life and debilitating fears – Speaking in front of hundreds of people.
Workplace racism was put under the spotlight after George Floyd was killed. Black employees started asking their employers the questions that seemed too difficult to bring up before. Why is there a lack of black employees in the workplace? Why aren’t there enough black seniors members of staff? Why do I continue to be overlooked without clear reason?
The company I work for launched a new Inclusion Committee and I made sure I was given a place on this much needed committee. I wanted to be part of the change and found myself volunteering to speak to the firm about our aspirations for a truly diverse and inclusive workforce.
Why I did this I don’t know!! I’m a major anxiety sufferer when it comes to public speaking. It’s crazy what one bad experience can do to one’s confidence, but for something so important, I knew I couldn’t let this ongoing fear get the better of me. I knew that if I was going to get over this, I would have to find a way to address and overcome this lingering fear.
My anxiety was always so physically overwhelming so the pressure was truly on. When my anxiety reaches a critical point, my heart beats so fast I see my chest moving, I sweat a lot, my mind draws blanks and nausea hits. Real stuff.
About 18 months ago, I was introduced to a book called ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers. The book teaches a number of techniques to turn fear and indecision into confidence and action. This book transformed how I managed fear. Not only did it confirm that fear is self-created, but she gave easy to do things to get through anxious moments. Research found that 85% of what people fear and worry about never comes to fruition. The other 15% of fears that actually do occur found that most people found that they can either handle the challenge better than expected, or the challenge ended up teaching them a valuable lesson.
I knew that the very nature of the topic and not wanting to get the message wrong could result in my anxiety spiralling out of control. I went back to ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ and pulled out some useful tips to help me triumph, after all, this was more than about me:
- I avoided self-sabotaging. It could have been easy for me to find an excuse to avoid this fear with phantom illnesses or non-urgent appointments
- I asked myself what was causing this significant anxiety, and I remembered giving a TERRIBLE presentation to senior members of the firm and was afraid of doing the same thing again! I reminded myself that that was a different time and I need to let go
- I turned my energy to exercising to release some of my built up anxiety
- I thoroughly prepared for the task ahead to build my confidence reduce my anxiety
Wednesday came; the day of the presentation. I was due to talk second… the first part of the presentation was coming to an end and all the familiar signs began appearing. I centred myself and said ‘Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway’; my heart rate started coming down, I would hear the presentation again and not my ringing ears… I spoke my first (very practiced) sentence and from that point I knew that I was going to be ok. I made it to the end of my presentation and couldn’t quite believe that I faced my fear and survived (slight over exaggeration but that’s how extreme the feeling was!). I wanted to share this story for anyone allowing fear to intrude their life; you can overcome this. There are so many books that provide brilliant guidance; I am endorsing Susan Jerrers because of what it did for me. Good luck and sending love and light always.