(Estimated reading time 2 minutes)
Almost two years ago, I decided it would help me to face my fear of public speaking. I chose to join Toastmasters to guide me along the path. Facing this fear seemed like a concrete way to practice building courage – something I value. I’d seen before that being courageous in one area of life often has ripple effects in other areas, and at the time, I needed as much courage as I could get. I hoped that facing the crippling fear of public speaking would enable me to meet other worries head-on – like going back to school at age 48 and becoming an entrepreneur for the first time.
As I reflect on the Toastmaster’s journey to date, the moments I have grown the most rapidly were also the ones I felt most out of my depth. Getting over fear was directly aligned with being in a position where I needed to be courageous. There were clear calls for courage when speaking in front of lots of people or doing workshops and other events for the first time. Not as recognizable but needing courage none the less, were the ongoing moments of choice – go to Toastmasters at the end of a long day in service of my bigger goals or give in to tiredness and shut down in front of the TV? It takes courage to say no to the comfort of maintaining the status quo. It takes courage to want something more and to actually take the action that’s going to help you get there.
I realize that one of the most significant parts of this process has been creating the habit of attending the weekly Toastmasters meetings. Just deciding to show up, even when I didn’t feel like it, has made a difference. I’ve been thinking quite a lot about habits recently – which ones serve me, and which ones don’t. This is one that has served in so many good ways.
- I’ve regularly put myself in a position where I’ve had to face this fear and practice being courageous.
- I’ve learned a lot about public speaking.
- I got to regularly practice deferring what I wanted for myself in the moment in favour of what I wanted for my future self.
Where am I now? I’ve learned that choosing a goal that significantly stretches your abilities is a great way to catapult you out of the lazy river of life and into the middle of the fast-flowing current! My new goal – get good enough to challenge the present cup holder in next year’s district evaluation contest! A lofty goal? Yes. Achievable? I don’t know. Will it help me up to my game? Absolutely!
Sue Das, Courage Coach, CPCC, ACC , B Soc Sc (SW)