Preparation: Key to Overcoming Fear

Winston-Churchill-Flashing-Victory-SignAbout twenty years ago, I read a fascinating book–The Sir Winston Method–by James Humes.  At the time, I was doing a fair amount of public speaking.  The book, an exploration of Winston Churchill’s speaking techniques, was apropos.

One practical bit of information I gleaned from this book was this: The way to overcome the fear of public speaking is to know more about your subject than anyone else in the audience.

Hmm.

It is fairly well-known that there are a lot of people in our world who fear getting up in front of people and speaking more than death itself.  Fear of humiliation.  Fear of unpreparedness.  It is quite potent.

I’ve learned that when I do my homework, when I have put myself through the paces, when I own my subject–I am far more unafraid.

Here’s the challenge:  Prepare.  Put in the time and effort to know your topic.  I mean really know it.  Anticipate the arguments and objections.  Indeed, shoot holes through your subject before anyone else can.  Know the weaknesses, the tenuous spots, and strengthen them.

Watch fear dissipate!

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Afraid? Take the Plunge

AfraidI grew up in the country, working and playing on farms.  There’s scarcely anything more adventurous for a kid than the things he can find to do on a large dairy farm.  Climbing silos.  Throwing apples at passing cars.  Pitching manure and playing in it.  Some of it was permitted.  A lot of it was not and we got yelled at from time to time.  But it was great fun.

When you are young, you don’t always use your head.  Some of our exploits involved jumping out of hay mows and walking on really high beams above cattle, mangers and bales of hay and straw.  I have to admit I got anxious at times.

The key to doing these things—which were quite scary for a boy—was simply doing them.  If you sat at the edge of the mow or straddled a beam and thought about it, your courage would flag and you wouldn’t take the chance.  A victory for brains; a defeat for derring-do.  (We were young and dumb, so daredevilry usually won the day.)

Our heroes in those days were people like Evel Knievel and Billy Jack.  One can understand why.

In 1988, a book appeared with the provocative title Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway.  Susan Jeffers authored this important work.

Feel it….but then do it.

Jack Canfield has referred to this book and the principle it highlights.  I’ve adopted the idea with good results.

We all face fears and anxieties over different things.  For some it’s flying.  For others, public speaking.  Most of us shy away from difficult conversations, whether in sales or conflict resolution.  The key is to own the fact that you feel the emotion of fear but decide to do the thing you fear anyway.  And then do it.  Fear is, after all, a feeling.  It may have validity.  I have a good friend, a career Army guy who’s jumped out of a lot of planes.  There is real fear launching out of a C-130.  Good sense for a paratrooper is to make sure his parachute has been properly prepared.  But he still jumped.  Over and over and over again.

Most of us will not be leaping out of moving aircraft or tackling pythons.  But we can all grow by feeling it.  Then doing it.

It’s really simple.

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Feel the Fear (and Do It Anyway)

I grew up in the country, working and playing on farms.  There’s scarcely anything more adventurous for a kid than the things he can find to do on a large dairy farm.  Climbing silos.  Throwing apples at passing cars.  Pitching manure and playing in it.  Some of it was permitted.  A lot of it was not and we got yelled at from time to time.  But it was great fun.

When you are young, you don’t always use your head.  Some of our exploits involved jumping out of hay mows and walking on really high beams above cattle, mangers and bales of hay and straw.  I have to admit I got anxious at times.

The key to doing these things—which were quite scary for a boy—was simply doing them.  If you sat at the edge of the mow or straddled a beam and thought about it, your courage would flag and you wouldn’t take the chance.  A victory for brains; a defeat for derring-do.  (We were young and dumb, so daredevilry usually won the day.)

Our heroes in those days were people like Evel Knievel and Billy Jack.  One can understand why.

In 1988, a book appeared with the provocative title Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway.

Feel it….but then do it.

Jack Canfield has referred to this book and the principle it highlights.  I’ve adopted the idea with good results.

We all face fears and anxieties over different things.  For some it’s flying.  For others, public speaking.  Most of us shy away from difficult conversations, whether in sales or conflict resolution.  The key is to own the fact that you feel the emotion of fear but decide to do the thing you fear anyway.  And then do it.  Fear is, after all, a feeling.  It may have validity.  I have a good friend, a career Army guy who’s jumped out of a lot of planes.  There is real fear launching out of a C-130.  Good sense for a paratrooper is to make sure his parachute has been properly prepared.  But he still jumped.  Over and over and over again.

Most of us will not be leaping out of moving aircraft or tackling pythons.  But we can all grow by feeling it.  Then doing it.

It’s really simple.

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Facing Fear

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”

–Frank Herbert

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