What’s a faster way to become a great public speaker: works slowly, giving a small speech every month, or finding the time and courage to tackle a big crowd every day. Tony Robbins, perhaps one of the world’s best known public speakers gave three speeches a day when he was starting out.
I believe the reason for a lot of failures is simply choosing the weaker options. Failing to be completely bold and maximizing every step possible. Although on an individual basis trading down to weaker options seems to have little cost, in the big picture it adds up.
Weak or Bold Options: Which to Choose?
When I make the comparison between weak and bold options, it seems obvious which to choose. If you really are committed to a goal, you pick the boldest option you can do. The problem, is that it is really easy to trade down to weaker options if you feel the difference is minimal.
If I had to distill the key metric that I believe makes a blog successful I would have to say post rate. Not because people would rather read 5 articles a week instead of 2. But because when you write 5 times per week you learn more than twice as fast as the person who only does two.
Bolder options usually have sharper learning curves. Fear of the unknown keeps people from learning at a high rate. The more you don’t know, the more mistakes you’ll make and the more you’ll learn.
Blind to Bold Options
I think a lot of people are blind to the bolder options. Not because these options aren’t available. They are usually abundant. Or because they are difficult to think of. Usually the bolder options are obvious.
The reason you blind yourself to bolder options is because you’ve accepted a predetermined level for the amount of fear you’re willing to handle. Doing one speech a month in a small audience is acceptable. Doing one speech a day for a crowd is terrifying.
Increasing Your Threshold
You can shift up your threshold for fear by seeing where it is and forcing yourself to live slightly above it.
When I started public speaking, I’d recognize what types of speeches I was comfortable giving, and then strive to pick ones that went out of that comfort zone. The surprising truth is that usually when I did this I made mistakes. I’d do speech contests where the tone of my speech didn’t resonate well with the audience. I’d do presentations where aspects of my speech were completely missed.
When you pick bolder options, you screw up more.
I don’t think you should shy away from this, but accept it as a fact. The entire reason you fear activities outside your comfort zone is because there’s a bigger chance you’ll make mistakes. The fear isn’t usually an illusion. You’ll make mistakes and you might get embarrassed or fail.
But over a period of time, picking bolder options will improve you more. Picking these options ends up being a shorter route to success, since it forces you to learn lessons you would otherwise avoid.
How to Recognize When Your Being a Wuss
Sometimes it’s easy to tell when you’ve traded down to weaker options. Dating, public speaking, networking and negotiating are often sources of acute fear. But I’d like to state something that might sound surprising: I don’t believe these are the biggest places people choose weaker options.
Social fears like approaching strangers or physical fears such as heights have very sensitive levels of fear associated. You know clearly where your threshold is. For this reason, it can be difficult, but many people are able to slowly increase their threshold.
The problem is in places where there are vague fears. Without a strong emotional reaction, many people don’t realize when they are picking weaker options. Here’s a few examples:
- Getting in shape: Should you go to the gym every day or just try running every once in awhile?
- Starting a business: Should you e-mail every person in your field to ask for advice and interview potential customers who are strangers or just talk to a few friends you know?
- Writing a book: Should you set a firm deadline, amounts you should write each day and contact publishers and agents, or just write when you feel like it and see how things go?
Vague fears, such as worrying what you look like at the gym or e-mailing people you don’t know, won’t create a sense of terror. But they will subtly cause you to pick easier options. Take these vague fears and pinpoint your current threshold, otherwise you can’t push it higher.
Look at each area of your life and ask yourself if you were absolutely fearless, what would you do to improve. The answers might surprise you in how different they are to what you are doing now. The next step is to shift your path so it can be more bold.