Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dare to Be Brave

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One night while watching TV, I landed on a reality-based show featuring three talented women who were vying for the title of being the best (in their field). To make it to the final competition, the women had to fly to Europe.

One contestant confessed that she was afraid to fly. Not willing to give up without trying, she made plans to make the trip. On the day of departure, she walked on board the plane, but that's all she could manage to do. Her fear of flying overwhelmed her and she exited the plane. Doing so meant she had to withdraw from the competition.

Watching the scene broke my heart. And I'm sure it broke hers too.

In 2000, I had a fear that stopped me. It was the fear of speaking in public. To cure myself, I joined Toastmasters and eventually (let's just say it didn't happen overnight) solved my problem.

My cyberfriend Beth Blair (Desert Mama) confessed to me not too long ago that she had a similar fear. Here's her latest report:

"I gave my first speech last night and I did GREAT! I was so so nervous driving there but when I got up to speak I felt okay. Then after the first minute or so I became totally relaxed. The best part was everyone laughed when they were supposed to. I received some really, really nice feedback. Thank you for the encouragement! It's an amazing feeling to get up and do something that I have been fearing my entire life."

Yes it is, Beth. Yes it is. I remember playing a scene over and over in my head when I was working so hard to overcome my fears. The scene went like this...

The room would be full of least 50 to 75...and I would walk up to lectern to give my talk. As I approached the lectern, I would turn, look and smile at the audience. I would be calm and relaxed...I would have no stressful reaction (hand shaking, brain freeze, wobbly voice). All would go smoothly and according to plan.

And one day, just as I imagined and believed could happen, the scene unfolded in front of me. I stood at the lectern in front of a group of 50+ women. It worked! It worked!

Today's message is about facing what scares you! Don't let a fear of flying stop you from going to your France.

Instead do something about it....start doing something about it today!

Would love to hear comments from others who have overcome fears and how you did it.

Allyn Evans
info at


Beth Blair said...

It really is quite a feat to face your fear then overcome it. I never realized how good it feels. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Ironically, I've never feared public speaking, but approaching a person one-on-one was scary. I was fortunate to hook up with a motivation training system and through much reading & practicing, I found I could do it.
And once I started doing booksignings, I HAD to do it! It still amazes my husband that I'll just walk up to a total stranger in the store and start talking to them.

L. Diane Wolfe

Prill Boyle said...

The other day a wonderful woman named Julie Belaga spoke at an organization I run called the Passion Project. She told the group that she was shy as a child and, like Beth, scared to death of public speaking.

This women's multitude of accomplishments include being the Republican candidate for governor of Connecticut in 1986; serving as a former regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency; and accepting President Clinton's appointment to the Export-Import Bank.

She told the group that the way she got over her fear was practice. "The more you speak," she said, "the easier it becomes."

In terms of my own fears, I've never enjoyed picking up the phone and calling strangers. Even to this day, it makes me a little nervous. But this is exactly what I had to do to find people to interview for my first book. Once again, the key is practice. The more I've done it--and I've done it a lot--the easier it gets. Even if I still get a little flutter in my stomach, I don't let that stop me from picking up the phone.

Prill Boyle
Author of Defying Gravity: A Celebration of Late-Blooming Women

Allyn Evans said...

Hi, Prill!

Thanks for this comment. I, too, don't like cold calling. But like you, I no longer let it stop me.

Doesn't mean I don't have a physical reaction that is telling me, "No! Don't do it! Stop!!" Yes, I still get that, especially if I have deemed it an important call.

But yes, the key...and that's why Toastmasters practice. You have to retrain your body to not overreact. And you do this by getting up in front of people (or calling strangers and asking for support, help or whatever) over and over again.

Thanks, for all the great feedback everyone.

Barbara Techel said...

I can relate to this fear also. I used to be very shy. For me having something I am so passionate about has helped me get over my fear. The first time I spoke I was SO nervous. It was in front of 200 people. But afterwards I felt so good! I was on cloud nine. I still get nervous now and them but it is getting easier.
This coming week I am talking to 6-8 graders and I'm nervous. I'm used to talking to K-5. A teacher friend of mine said, 6-8 are just bigger kids with an attitude. The attitude is what scares me! HA!
Barbara Techel
Author of Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Oh, my generation of women had to get over all kinds of fears. It was the only way to function in the world. Fear of driving. Fear of driving on the freeways. Fear of traveling alone. I mean my list was huge. And I still feel fear over some things. But I believe in evaluating fear. Usually it is unfounded. When it is, we can usually find ways to face it down one baby step at a times.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Also blogging at

Prill Boyle said...

Carolyn, you just made me remember another fear I used to have--renting a car by myself and driving in a strange city. But once I did it in L.A., Dallas and Detroit, I figured I could do it anywhere. The bravest thing I ever did when it comes to renting cars was to rent (with my husband this time) a right-hand-drive model overseas. Shifting with my left hand was an experience.

Allyn Evans said...

One of my favorite authors/teachers also claims she doesn't like to travel alone. I don't think she ever has (at least at last reading) done so. I've never been afraid to drive in strange towns or long distances. I grew up doing having to drive to and fro.

Prill...your comment made me remember a trip to Australia! Ha! My husband had to work during days. So if I was going to get out and see things, I had to do it alone. Now driving on the wrong side of the road...that was a major challenge (and scary as heck!).