Is There a Big Scary Thing Between You and Your Highest Potential? Here’s How to Move Forward Anyway.

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I’m speaking on stage in a couple of weeks.  

Without notes.  

I’ve spoken on stage before but never without notes.  

That freaks me out.  

What if I forget what I’m supposed to say?  What if I go blank?  

That’s my biggest fear:  being up on stage…delivering my speech…and then suddenly going blank and having no idea what I’m supposed to say next.

That’s why I’ve avoided it for years.  Not that I’ve spoken on stage a lot, but any time I have, it’s been with my notes.  

Actually, it’s been with a copy of my entire speech written out!

I’m a writer; not an orator.  

At least that’s what I’ve told myself over the years, so I can avoid the risk of speaking without the safety net of my notes.

It’s true that writing is my first love.  But something inside me says that maybe I’m an orator, too.  

And my intuition keeps whispering that if I want to build the business I see in my dreams and have the impact my soul came here to manifest, speaking on stage is going to be a key part of making that happen.

So I’m doing it.  Because whether I crush it or bomb, I’ll have stopped avoiding it and I’ll get to experience myself giving a speech on stage in front of an audience without notes. 

The first one is always the hardest, and I’ll have it out of the way.

So how’d I convince myself to go for it?  

4 strategies helped me finally say ‘no’ to my fear and ‘YES!’ to all the possibility, growth, and expansion that speaking on stage can bring to my life. 

As you’re reading, I hope you’ll think about how you might be able to apply these same strategies to the thing you’re afraid to do, but need to do in order to honor your highest potential.

  1. Make Sure It’s Something You’re Passionate About and That’s Aligned with Your Soul Purpose

    As I mentioned above, I’ve spoken on stage before, but it was in a different career.  I spent 21 years in the online marketing and entrepreneurship space – 10 years in corporate and 11 years running my own business with my husband.

    Here’s the thing:  I was never passionate about that industry or our business.  It was fine, but it didn’t light me up. 

    For 21 years

    And that means I never really felt comfortable in my own skin or drawn to expand my potential. 

    I was afraid a lot of the time (that’s what happens when you’re living a life that’s out of sync with your true self) and it was the kind of fear that just shuts things down. 

    Today, I’m in a career I love.  Being a Life Coach isn’t just a job for me; it’s my dharma – my calling.  So while I’m afraid to speak on stage, there’s also excitement! 

    I have a vision for the possibilities that await if I can overcome my fear and grow to become a powerful speaker.  I also feel a deep desire to experience the kind of personal expansion I know it will bring. 

    I don’t want to stay small this time, even though I’m afraid. 

    I want to get bigger.  I want to show myself my potential.  And I want to make a difference.

    When the thing you’re afraid to do is an area you’re passionate about, it’s so much easier to say ‘yes’.  You feel drawn to expand beyond your fear instead of allowing it to shut you down.

    So, is the Big Scary Thing you’re trying to do in an area you’re passionate about? 

    Does it feel like it’s part of your path to expansion and self-actualization? 

    Does it feel like it’s in alignment with the person you most want to become?

If not, there may be a good reason you’re not jumping in with both feet.  Maybe it’s a sign you’re playing in the wrong pool.  If that rings true for you, the Big Scary Thing you actually might need to do is find the right pool to play in!

  1. Make it Low Risk

    Yes, I’m speaking on stage for the first time without notes, but I’m doing it in a low risk setting.  This is part of a class I took where we learned how to write a signature talk for our business. 

    The audience will be made up of people invited by the instructor, and by me and the other speakers.  It will probably be small, and those who come will know they’re coming to listen to people who are new to speaking from stage.

    It’s a great way for me to dip my toe in the water and swim just beyond the area where I can touch the ground.  I’m not asking myself to swim a couple miles from shore (yet); I’m just asking myself to get a little outside my comfort zone.

    The thing is, I know that once I do this, I’ll be able to swim a bit further next time.  And a little further after that.  And someday I’ll be able to swim to a TED Talk stage.

So as you’re thinking of the Big Scary Thing you long to do, ask yourself if there’s a way you can start small. 

What can you do that would take you just outside your comfort zone, but not so much that your fear paralyzes you or makes it so you never want to do it again, even if you get through it once?

In other words, how can you take a risk while keeping your fear at a level that doesn’t overwhelm you?

  1. Redefine Success

    When I first said yes to this speaking opportunity, the fear started wearing on me as I imagined getting on stage and not having my notes.  In my fearful vision, I imagined myself being up there, forgetting what I want to say, and just standing up there like a frightened wide-eyed doe with nowhere to run.

    And then I realized the expectation I was putting on myself.  At first it wasn’t even at the conscious level.  But as I thought about why I was afraid – even when I knew I was going to be in a low-risk setting – I realized that I was expecting myself to deliver perfection.

    I was expecting myself to deliver a powerful talk…in a clear, confident, and steady voice…where I spoke every word exactly as I had written it. 

    My talk should be so polished that it should appear effortless – just like the speakers on the TED stage.  Even though it was my first time.

    This impossibly high expectation was creating such a weight on me that it was making it hard for me to even practice my speech.  Just the thought of going over it – knowing that I had to get it to the point of perfection – felt overwhelming.  

    That’s when it dawned on me that maybe my goal didn’t have to be to deliver a perfectly polished talk with perfect poise in the most perfectly powerful voice.

    Maybe my goal for my first time out could simply be to do the thing:  get up on stage and give a talk without notes.  That’s it.  If I accomplish that, I win!

    Redefining my goal has taken away the pressure that was building inside me and starting to affect my ability to deliver at all.

    So as you look at the Big Scary Thing you’re trying to do, is there a way you can rethink what success looks like?  Especially when you’re first starting out?

    How can you define success in a way that will allow you to step up to the plate and take a swing?

    How can you give yourself the best chance of hitting a home run, while also being ok with a whiff, because neither of them were the point anyway?

  2. Do It with a Group

    As I mentioned earlier, I’m giving this talk as part of a class I took where we learned how to craft a signature talk for our businesses.  So I’m not the only newb in the group – and that feels good.

    Courage is contagious.  Just look at President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine for the ultimate example. 

    Doing scary things is always easier when you’re with other people who are in the same boat – people who are afraid, just like you, but doing the thing anyway. 

    There’s a sense of camaraderie.  You’ve got people cheering you on…high-fiving you when things go well…and comforting you with compassion and understanding when things don’t go well. 

    It drives your desire to keep going, even when it’s hard, and makes success more fun!   It also makes failure less devastating, and makes it a heck of a lot easier to get back on that pony after you’ve been bucked off.

    So is there a way for you to do your Big Scary Thing with a group, or at least one other person? 

    Even if you’re doing something that’s truly a lone wolf activity, try and connect with other people who are taking risks in their lives.  Maybe it’s not the same risk as you, but risk is risk, and they’ll understand what you’re going through. 

    Their courage will feed your courage and vice versa, making it easier for both of you accomplish your respective goals.

I hope these strategies that helped me say ‘yes’ to my Big Scary Thing also help you say ‘yes’ to yours! 

Because, while doing the Big Scary Thing is scary…

…the most terrifying thing of all is never allowing yourself to experience the possibility, potential, and expansion that live on the other side of your fear.

P.S. Want even more tips for ways to move beyond your fear?  Go to my website at and download my free guide, called “5 Steps to Making Fear Your Friend”.  I’ll show you how to work with your fear so you can start living a life that truly lights you up and sets your soul on fire!

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