Feel the fear…

And do it anyway.

Someone told me this a number of years ago.  Simple advice, and yet at times, hard to implement.

Fear is such a powerful force Рit gives us some great information at times.  And at other times, it can hold us back.

I’ve been working on implementing this advice for a long time… feel the fear, and do it anyway.¬† Or perhaps more accurately: feel the fear, ask myself why I’m having this fear – what it’s roots are, and whether its valid or not – and then determining a way through it.

One of the things that sometimes still surprises me is the fact that – even after facing some of my big fears and realizing I came out on the other side, not only unscathed, but stronger – there are always a few more fears waiting in the wings.¬† To ask me whether I was going to allow them to see the light of day too, or whether they’d stay lurking there for a little bit longer.

This year has been a year of facing a lot of the fears still lurking in the wings.

One of those fears is public speaking.¬† Like so many others on this planet, it was something that just caused me to freeze – ignited my ‘flight’ response embedded deep in my amygdala.

I also realized that because of this fear, I was always rehearsing my failure instead of visualizing my success.

I was recently selected for the AMAZING opportunity to give a TEDx talk at TEDxMoncton. To speak about Amplify¬†and bias… about how we can work around our bias to find the best people.

The preparation for this talk was cathartic.¬† I got my draft ready, sent it to friends, practiced with colleagues and mentors and got some truly amazing feedback and support.¬† They not only helped me visualize my success, they also gave me some public speaking tips that I didn’t know about – repeat your message, repeat, repeat, repeat, use your hands, and your body to convey your message.

And then came the day of the talk.¬† I woke up nervous, and so headed out to practice my talk doing one of my favourite things – being outside with the dog.¬† Thankfully I didn’t see too many people as I rehearsed it multiple times while walking the trails….!¬† Doing this, along with the support I received from the various people I reached out to, really helped me to visualize my success.

The people I got to stand beside at TEDxMoncton were one of the best parts of this experience – from the people who organized it, to the other speakers.

Each of the talks was so inspiring and for different reasons.¬† My favourite quote from the night was Ken MacLeod, of Sistema NB, saying that “talent is universally distributed, opportunity is not”.¬† Isn’t that the truth.¬† And he has some compelling return-on-investment statistics on why investing in music-excellence education for young people who happen to come from disadvantaged backgrounds pays huge DIVIDENDS – a way to work around our bias.

What was common about all of the talks was the clear passion people felt for their topics. I felt the same way Рit was a story I felt compelled to tell.  It was the same story that led to creating Amplify East.

And because of that story bigger than myself, I did it.¬† I stood on a stage, in the beautiful Capitol Theatre, and delivered a talk among people I admire.¬† My voice didn’t shake for the first time ever.¬† I visualized my success.

While I still have lots that I want to work on for future speaking, I’m so happy that I was able to take this fear out of the wings and give it sunlight.

It’s true that sunlight is the best disinfectant.