You've got to be willing to get uncomfortable
Speaking to 300 people, what it’s really like…..
My heart was pounding. I read over my notes but nothing was going in, I just couldn’t focus. I could hear the noise of 300 people laughing and joking as they made their way into the main arena. I tried a different angle; focus on mindfulness and breathing technique. It helped. Being aware of my breathing, and controlling it, helped me to bring the heart rate down and regain some control. The scene? I was sat in my dressing room, out of sight, about to embark on one of the scariest things I’d ever done in my life; speaking to a full house in my hometown.
I don’t normally get nervous before speaking events. But this wasn’t any event. This was the culmination of four years of building a business from the ground up, of overcoming obstacle after obstacle, of bouncing back when I had been on the floor, of perseverance, persistence, of refusing to be beaten. This was my town. And this was my time. I had earned it, and I deserved to be speaking in front of a full house.
The problem is sometimes you forget that. You doubt yourself. Sitting in that room, alone, I almost felt like a fraud. Maybe I don’t deserve to be here? I’m sure there’s better people than me for doing an event like this? I had promised people the biggest motivation & mindset event ever held on this side of our brilliant country. What if I couldn’t deliver? What if people think I’m boring or uninteresting? What if I don’t meet the standards people expect, the next two hours could undo all of the work I’ve built up over the years.
All of these things enter your head but the key is not to give power to them. When I catch myself thinking like that I immediately bring it back to reality and focus on everything I’ve achieved so far. And on that evening, in that room, I kept reminding myself that the reason these people were here is because of all the hard work I have done and because I have a lot to offer. In any case there’s not much point doubting yourself because others will do that for you….one person told me after the event “we sat near the door so we could leave after 15 minutes if you were sh*t, but we loved it!”. Thanks, I’m not sure how to take that one! ☺
About 10 minutes before I was due to go on stage my event manager arrived into my dressing room to give me the low down on the vibe in the room and so on. I think that last 10-15 minutes before you’re due out is the worst of all but I was really just focusing on hiding my nerves from her. If I show nerves it spreads to others and builds it up more in my head. So it was gameface all the way.
The funny thing is once you get started it’s absolutely fine. It’s the waiting around before that plays tricks on the mind. I knew if I could build a rapport with the crowd in the first few minutes and have some fun it’d be fine. And so it was. The key to everything is preparation. If I talk to students about exams I tell them if they have the work done they have nothing to worry about. If I talk to weight loss clients about reaching their goals I tell them if they plan their food and training in advance they have nothing to worry about. And yet I sometimes need to remind myself of the same philosophy. For all the nerves beforehand I knew I had the work put in. I knew my content inside out. I had prepared. And therefore there’s nothing really to be worried or nervous about.
The atmosphere in the room was amazing. It was actually electric at times. The energy and the positive vibes we created really was something to behold. At times it was emotional, at times it was funny, at times it was about telling some truths. But ultimately it was about enabling people to leave that room in a more positive frame of mind, helping them to get a clear vision of what they want from their lives, and helping them to understand that for each of us our outcomes are decided only by ourselves.
On a personal level I’m probably living proof of that. Leaving a comfortable job in the midst of one of the worst recessions our country has ever witnessed was a crazy decision in the eyes of many. I started off running fitness classes for a handful of people. I had no support, no financial backing and pretty much no clients. I hit setback after setback.
But I kept believing in myself. I set goals to work towards. I surrounded myself with positive people. I took responsibility for every action and every decision I made. And when you do that you start making progress because you start to realise that every one of those actions and decisions take you closer, or further away from where you want to be. You can look for excuses or blame others but if you want to really move forward in any area of your life you need to own your actions. If I can go from being a shy kid to speaking in front of hundreds of people I can’t accept people telling me they “can’t” do something. Of course in many cases it’s valid but usually it’s a case of “won’t”, as opposed to “can’t”.
I may have been nervous in that room beforehand but I guess that’s what it’s all about really. To achieve extraordinary things you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone. Do things that make you uncomfortable. Was it worth it? You’d better believe it. I had an amazing night and it was so rewarding to see the impact the event had on people. The event was called Enhance Your Life and I definitely thing a few lives were enhanced that night. I’ve received some lovely emails and messages from those who attended on that night.
When I see the positive effect it has on people it makes me realise that I’m doing something worthwhile. There’s a sentence I uttered that night that has been said back to me several times since and it’s the one I’m going to close this blog with; You don’t deserve success, you create it. Time to refocus, set some more goals and keep getting uncomfortable!