This post was inspired by Chris Guillebeau's Unconventional Writing Contest.
What holds you back from accomplishing your dreams?
If you could pin down the one thing that is keeping you from reaching your most glorious dreams where you travel like Chris Guillebeau, make money like Oprah, or work a crowd like Bill Clinton…
What would it be?
It’s none of those things.
It’s your fear.
The fear within you is holding you back from making your dream life a reality. Now I’m not claiming to know it all; I myself have been guilty of giving in to my fears many times, but the important thing is that I recognize what’s holding me back.
Believe me, even Oprah and Bill Clinton have fears, but the difference between them and us is that they lean into their fears until they aren’t afraid of the fire any longer.
My Embarrassing Story
I used to be afraid to talk to groups of any size. I would get a lump in the front of my throat that felt like an orange. As a result, I avoided public speaking at all costs.
This story is about a young me, a wide-eyed buck trying to get a marketing degree. One of the classes I had to take was speech. It was a prerequisite to graduate. For one of my first projects, I prepared a speech about Buddhism and the importance of enjoying the present moment. I hated every moment of that speech.
I see the humor in it now, but back then I was just trying to survive my class.
I stood in front of my class and proceeded to make clicking sounds with my cheeks and tongue (at least that’s what a class mate told me). I also froze about halfway through.
My head was spinning right off my body.
I skipped the middle of my speech and wrapped it up three minutes shy of the five-minute requirement.
To this day, I’m still not sure what exactly happened; I blanked out for most of it. I do know that I wasn’t a natural speaker. My brain short-wired with all those judging eyes.
Let’s Fast Forward
Fast forward 7 years and many Toastmaster meetings later: I began to push myself in front of an audience because I had a goal: I wanted to speak to people about work happiness. When I first started speaking, I was so afraid to be myself that I was monotonous and sooooo painfully boring.
I was afraid to show any personality. People couldn’t laugh at me for being boring. Right?
Boy was I wrong. People will laugh at someone for anything. It’s a natural instinct. We make fun of each other to bond. I know it doesn’t make it right, but that’s just the way it is.
Fast forward another 5 more years: now I regularly give workshops and presentations to small and large groups and I love it. The only reason I was able to learn to I love it is because I realized that no one is a harsher judge than me. It was really my fear of who I was that prevented me from relaxing in front of a crowd.
If I was my harshest critic, then it was up to me to accept my dorky voice, my weirdness (for example: laughing at inappropriate moments), and my crazy ideas before anyone else could feel comfortable with my method of delivering a presentation.
Over the past five years, I slowly accepted myself by putting myself out there. I now do video on my blog for thousands of people and I don’t sweat a drop.
There is probably some part of you that you have trouble accepting. Maybe you don’t like your nose, have a bad memory, or perhaps you also hate public speaking, like many people do.
Whatever may be holding you back, you need to come up with an unconventional plan to accept this part of you. That may mean taking a picture of your nose every week and posting it up on flickr. Yes, this is a little weird, but it works. Because when you put yourself out there, you will realize that people will find a way to love that part of you. More importantly, you’ll come to accept that part of yourself as beautiful.
Are you on Twitter? Then check me out at @workhappynow. You’ll be glad you did.
Lance of the Jungle of Life and Joanna Sutter of Fitness and Spice created an ebook called Blog-4-Cause to help fight breast cancer. I was asked to submit one of my favorite articles. It's in there, so if you want to find out which one it is then give a small donation to get the book. There is over 150 bloggers who added to the project. I bet there are a few articles that will change your life.
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Image courtesy of topgold