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 – it 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 – it 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.