I’m not a terribly shy person.
I’ll strike up conversations at the coffee shop, make new friends at the dog park, and call strangers to tell them how much I love their work. Put me in front of anyone, and I’ll start chatting. But put me in front of a group of people and I’ll basically have a heart attack.
You see, public speaking is one of my greatest fears (along with centipedes and tornadoes, if you’re curious.) And in the past when I’ve found myself talking to a roomful of people, my throat will suddenly clench up and I’ll turn a deep shade of red.
So when one of my local clients asked me to participate in an Ignite Madison event, I had every intention of saying no. But for some reason, I surprised myself and said, “Yes.”
I regretted my decision immediately. I spent the next week coming up with as many plausible excuses as I could for why I had to drop the commitment. Laryngitis? Dog ate my laptop?
But in case my plans to bail fell through, I also started to tentatively sketch out what my short talk might look like. And then, because I still hadn’t gotten the courage to call the organizer and quit, I began to practice my talk – in my car, then in front of the mirror, then in front of friends on skype. I even googled for pictures of audiences, and practiced in front of them. Before I knew it, the big night had arrived. I somehow managed to drive myself to the venue, and even walk the 5 steps up to the stage.
That night I got in front of 200 people, and I talked about my art.
It was absolutely terrifying. But I didn’t have a heart attack. And even if I did turn beet red, it was too dim for anyone to notice.
This is not a post about challenging ourselves to push past our limits.
This is a post about being willing to take that tiny first step, and then another, and then another.