I did a brave thing last week. I got out of my comfort zone and spoke in public at a networking event!
Now, I know your definition of brave might not be the same as mine, but to me, doing something that scares you is a brave thing. When I started my business just over three years ago, the very thought of networking and actually having to go out and speak to other business owners scared the hell out of me. I remember taking a friend to my first event (I was too scared to go on my own!) and my hands were shaking when I poured my first cup of tea. I found out we were doing speed networking and I was absolutely horrified, but in the end it was actually quite fun. You weren’t stuck talking to the same person for more than five minutes at a time, and there was the opportunity to return to people you really wanted to talk to at the end of the meeting.
Actually standing up and talking to an audience for ten minutes though, well, I pretty much discounted that from the very start. Until last week, that is.
I attend a local networking event once a month which includes what’s known as a ‘soapbox’ feature, where one regular attendee gets the opportunity to tell everyone about their passion for what they do. Being a regular attendee, I kind of knew it was only going to be a matter of time before my name was picked out of the hat, and I’ll admit it, I nearly chickened out when I was given the nod, but I realised that this would get me nowhere. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past year, it’s that to move forward in your business, you have to get out of your comfort zone in some form or another, otherwise you’ll never grow, either personally and professionally. I knew I wasn’t exactly selling my services, I only had to be convincing about the passion I have for words and the belief I have that it’s important to make content available to ALL learning styles (I do this with intelligent transcription, by the way, just in case you didn’t know!).
I see now that the fear I was feeling was fear of the unknown. It was fear that I would trip over my words and be tongue-tied, that my mouth would dry up, that I might fall over in front of everyone and make a fool of myself or that I might get a poor response. I realised that fear of what might happen wasn’t going to serve me in any way, and why on earth would bad stuff happen anyway? I convinced myself that because I knew what I was talking about, some people would resonate with it, and some might not, but they wouldn’t be my ideal customer anyway. When I stood up to speak last week, my nerves evaporated, and I actually enjoyed it. Yes, the crowd wasn’t massive (around 17), but considering I haven’t stood up in front of that many people since I was at school, that was a biggie for me, and I know now that if I can do it, anybody can!
What’s your biggest fear when it comes to your business, and what would get you out of your comfort zone?