Today, I am sharing a story with you of how facing our fears can bring about the most unexpected and incredible experiences.
The graphic I have attached may be a bit difficult to read so I’d like to share my story. Because my story can be anyone’s story. Of that, I am sure.
I’m sure you have heard the saying that the biggest fears for most people are death and public speaking. Harsh? Maybe. Certainly not the case for everyone, but I suspect it is for many, many people.
For a majority of my life, I was an introvert. I was rather shy and quiet. I would certainly be the last one to speak in class while at school (do not make eye contact and you won’t be asked!). I was always intimidated about what others thought of me and anything remotely associated with speaking in public was as far on the opposite end of my comfort level as one could possibly get. Even sharing this with you brings back those feelings and emotions.
As an adult, this fear still existed. As I became more comfortable with my purpose, passion and self, the fear of “speaking up” took more of back seat but it was always lurking around, yes lurking, ugh. This is why it came as such a surprise to me when I was given the opportunity to present a motivational program to health care employees about 5 years ago and……..I was excited. The thrill of the opportunity to spread a message of hope, healing and inspiration to people over-road my fear of speaking. I had found my calling and something that brought a spark of “what if” to my world. It was a year after this that I decided to start my own business, A Good & Kind Company, which was in perfect alignment with not only my personal values but also with what I feel the world needs right now. We need more kindness, compassion, non-judgement, love, peace, gratitude, fun, joy and laughter. We need it because a lot of the things that we are doing is not working. We see signs of unhappy people everyday, everywhere we go.
In November 2013, I traveled to Boston to become certified as an Infinite Possibilities trainer, a program developed by Mike Dooley. Mike is well known as an international best selling author and speaker, from his appearance on “The Secret” as well as his daily “Notes from the Universe”. While at this event, we were encouraged to sign up for Toastmasters which would provide us with confidence, the ability to connect with an audience and more effectively share our message. I clearly remember immediately thinking that NO, I was fine and would not need to join. Thank you anyways!
About a year later, Rob and I secured a one year work visa for Hawaii, yes Hawaii. This is another story of a life-changing adventure, which I will be sharing. I worked diligently on my business while there, writing, networking and developing strategies. I often thought about speaking and that excited me. Toastmasters popped into my mind one day and by then it was June; our visas expired in October. I decided to make the call.
The next thing I knew, I was at my first meeting in Waikiki! I was warmly greeted, got settled in and felt very comfortable. I wanted to clarify that I would not have to speak and I was assured that I would be fine. Things were looking good until…….I was called up to speak during the Table Topics session. Two things happened after that: I made them laugh and I won the award for the most “ahs” and “ums”. I joined Toastmasters then and there. My next decision surprises me to this day. I had three months until we would be returning to Canada and I decided to finish my Competent Communicator manual during this time. That was 13 weeks to finish 10 speeches, which meant I had to speak at almost every meeting! Don’t hold back Caron. I presented this to my club and thank them to this day for being flexible and accommodating my goal. There is no turning back now Caron, let’s get at ‘er!
I did finish my manual, I was nervous giving every speech, I did receive great feedback and support to help me in my speaking journey, and I absolutely did face a huge fear. Good grief, looking back I would have never thought I would have done this. The ripple effect of “not holding back” has been incredible. I was honored last November by receiving the club’s Outstanding Toastmaster award. I have confidence and continue on my Toastmasters journey in BC. I have the proof and validation that anyone can face their fears. No matter our age, our situation, our limiting beliefs or what others think.
Last month, my Waikiki Toastmasters story was featured in the Member Achievements Section of the Toastmasters International magazine. How exciting, what a journey for me and what a message of hope for absolutely anyone else. I encourage you to simply believe because the only one holding us back is ourselves.
To facing fears, growing and moving forward,