One of the most disastrous moments of my life was in junior high school. Okay, actually all of junior high was disastrous but this was particularly bad.  It was “oral report” time and I had to chosen to speak about the dangers of smoking. I had my notes carefully written out – in pencil – on 3 by 5 note cards.

Oral reports usually took days to get through at 5 minutes per student for just an hour class. But it finally happened… “Andrea – you are up!” The teach called on me.

My stomach lurched. I stumbled to the front of the room. My note cards were barely readable (why did I use pencil??) and seemed out of order… or were they? My voice shook as I began – steadied myself against the podium.

All normal functioning shut down. It was about survival. Fight or flight.

Fleeing was not an option.

At some point I must have finished and I do recall making my way back to my chair to the snickers of classmates. It was really, really bad. Really bad. It was also the day I decided that I would make it my life’s mission to do as little public speaking as humanly possible for as long as I lived. In the years following, I would do everything within my power to avoid speaking to a group.

If you had told me then that I would make a living speaking – as in “professionally” as in – “paid” I never would have believed it.

But time moves on and circumstances change.

So can people.

In college I forced myself to take a speaking course. It didn’t go great but I wasn’t terrible either. Since I was a Criminal Justice major my main talk was about the things the police do when they pull people over – like how the position the car and other things the public doesn’t pay attention to that helps to keep them safer.

Then when I moved up the ranks in my corporate position after college, I found that I loved training. I was eventually teaching two day classes for “New Hire Orientation” on the topics of company culture, customer service, and sales. I would later take a course and get certified by the American Society of Training & Development.

And then we launched our company. I did what I was good at – the marketing and selling. I still was not the main speaker. Until finally Richard convinced me that we needed to be sharing the Go for No message together.

The thing I didn’t realize during any of this time was – speaking was always easier for me when I cared about the message. When I believed in what I was sharing. From the police procedures speech in college, to the training I did in my company, to Go for No – I cared about those things.

Did my fear go away entirely? Of course not! I still get a little nervous. But fear seems to fade when you believe enough in what you are doing. That becomes the thing you focus on – not the nervousness, not the fear.

I have become a speaker in part because of the passion I have for the Go for No message and the sheer thrill and joy I get from doing it now. I am certainly not the greatest speaker you’ll ever hear. (I am a lot better than I was in junior high, haha.)

I have learned that what you think you can or cannot do, what fears you think you will hold onto forever, can change. With passion, belief, a little courage, and the willingness to be bad for a while – we can change.

“You have powers you never dreamed of. You can do things you never thought you could do. There are no limitations in what you can do except the limitations of your own mind.” – Darwin P. Kingsley

Comments? Please let me know your thoughts. And if you liked this post, please share! – AW