One lesson life has taught me is that you should never give in to your fears. Your subconscious is your worst enemy. It is always whispering in your ear telling you that you are going to make a fool of yourself. The trouble is that it knows you so well it knows all your weaknesses and never holds back at pointing them out to you.
‘When you stand up there on that stage your hands will shake and your voice tremble. You’ll look a fool,’ it whispered in my head. ‘You’ll forget what you want to say and far from inspiring people you’ll be ridiculed.’
It was this fear of failure that creates pressure.
I put my notes in a plastic wallet so any shaking was not so visible. I practised speaking so that I could control my voice and always took a glass of water on stage so that I could take a sip and control myself. It helped.
You have to stand up to your subconscious and tell it sternly to shut up.
Your subconscious holds you back.
I don’t just mean that in terms of career development; I mean it in terms of life experience. There is no feeling as good as conquering your fear, doing something you dread and doing it well. This is true for bungee jumpers, sky-divers and people in all walks of life.
The fear of public speaking holds many people back. Don’t let it. I have seen ‘Heads of Year’ delivering their first assemblies shaking and stuttering only to find, a year later, those same people have become confident and at ease on a stage. If it really bothers you, go on a public speaking course.
Don’t allow yourself to be beaten by your own self before you even start.
The danger of not taking risks and pushing yourself is that you stay in your comfort zone. That is fatal. You get bored and shrink into yourself. I’ve seen teachers who had the ability to do so much more, decay into cynical individuals who spent the latter days of their career going through the motions. They grow to hate the job and can’t wait to get out. Yet these individuals had so much more to offer and they owed it to themselves, as well as the kids they taught, to push harder.
By the time I finished I was confident on any stage but I never lost my nerves.
This is true of many performers. Many great comedians and musicians get themselves in a complete state before they go on stage. Then they walk out on the platform and become the epitome of relaxed self-assurance. You feel nervous because you care.