Willingness to Look Foolish

December 1, 2010

Everytime you are on stage or before an audience, several fears sneak up on you. One of them is the fear of “looking like a fool”. The last thing you want to do, whatever it takes, is to look like a fool, right?

Chances are that it will never happen to you! However, if you want to increase the chance of success, I suggest you create a willingness to look foolish. Why? Well, if you are willing to look silly, the fear won’t have a strong impact on you any more. The fear will dry up. And you know what? In case it really happens, you probably will laugh with it, rather than to try to hide it or ย to minimize it. By facing our fears, you might be able to solve them!

Let’s take it from another point of view. Can you think about an opportunity that you have missed out, because you were afraid of looking foolish? Perhaps you did not ask for the appropriate advice or you did not approach that big potential client, because you might look silly? Let me ask you another question: To whom do you care about looking silly? What most people are answering me is that they are afraid of looking foolish to people they don’t know (yet)! I get that. I used to be like that too ( and sometimes I still am). ย So what you are actually saying is that we don’t do the things we want or we don’t fulfill our dreams because we are afraid of what people whom we don’t know might think! ย Wow! They don’t know us, but they are ruling our lives…

You know what? They probably don’t think you are foolish at all! So, why let them take control? Instead think about all the joy and knowledge you are bringing with your message. Of course, you could alsoย remember not to take life so seriously! That’s what I do ๐Ÿ™‚

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Not Afraid

August 13, 2010

I‘m not afraid to take a stand
Everybody come take my hand
We’ll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just let you know that, you’re not alone
Holla if you feel that you’ve been down the same road

– Eminem, Not Afraid –

We all have our fears. Some more than others. What are you afraid of? Me, I used to be afraid to stand up and talk before an audience. Not any more. Not even before unknown audiences or in other countries. Not even if something goes wrong, like a computer crash, no internet, heat, cold, no ย mic…A couple of months ago I even took over a session of a friend, who got sick on stage. I stood up, walked up and continued his session. I had no clue what he had prepared, so I had to improvise and managed it very well. Without fear or nerves.

What happened? Like many keynote speakers I learned to get rid of my fear. How did I do this? Instead of running away from my fears, which is what most people do, I decided to face my fears! Every opportunity I got, I stood up, first hesitating, of course, then with more and more confidence.

Why? I tricked myself…Of course, I started with telling (practical) jokes to friends (small audiences), asking questions during seminars or trainings I attended as a participant. It takes courage to stand up and ask your question. And it better be a good question, right? So, I started with small exercises, then moved on to introduce speakers on stage. And at one point in time I was asked to give a session to a professional audience. I was an undercover student (clients didn’t know I was still a student) and there I suddenly had to give someone else’s presentation. Nervous at first, I surprisingly felt rather comfortable, because I knew the topic very well (As an expert, it doesn’t matter which questions they ask…bring it on!). And then I used a trick: I told myself I was playing a game. How well can you pretend to be a good speaker? Would anyone notice that I am just a student? So, I played this game and WON! No one ever knew! So, if you are uncertain, see if this trick could also work for you…You got game? ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, if you are prepared well, you also know who will be in your audience. Did you adapt your speech to them? Are you using examples they understand? How well will you interact with them or fulfill their expectations? Interesting to know these answers before you get on stage! Did you ask?

Also, learning from peers helps tremendously too. As Eminem sings…you are not alone. Every speaker, trainer or coach went through it as well ( or still is!), so by exchanging experiences you can help each other. Focus on the positive things first. What is he/she doing right? Might be hard at first, but even the worst keynotes still have value to learn from. Can you discover what it is? Share your thoughts. If you receive feedback from others, first take it in, before your defense goes up. Don’t take yourself so seriously! Listen to what others are saying. Reflect on it. Are they right? Why (not)? Then decide if you change . Just postpone your judgement and act later…

One final thing. Be kind to yourself! Remember: Everyone has to learn. Every time you faced your fears and overcome them, reward yourself. It can be as simple as taking in the applause the audience gives you. It can be enjoying the compliments some people give you. It can be you, giving yourself a high five or big smile. You just won the game : You – Fear : 1 – 0! ย ๐Ÿ™‚

So, wrapping up, here are a couple of tips if you are afraid of public speaking:

  1. know your subject (you are the expert because you are on stage, not them)
  2. know your audience (who is there? what do they expect?)
  3. be prepared and show up early
  4. take any opportunity to speak, even if it is by asking questions from the audience first
  5. ask feedback, from the audience, but also from peers
  6. go to other keynote speakers and learn from them
  7. Trust yourself and reward yourself everytime by enjoying the applause. You earned it!

Two types of people?

April 6, 2009

“There are two types of people who will tell you that you can not make a difference in this world: Those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.โ€

Ray Goforth

Most people who are afraid of something, don’t want you to try it either, because they are afraid of it. So, they talk you out of it! Or at least they try…They downgrade your effort and they find a number of reasons for NOT letting you do it (the easy way : finding excuses!). So, don’t let these people scare you. Of course, it can be polite to listen to them first, but remember it’s your decision. Believe in yourself and just do it! You can make a difference!

Then there are these people who are afraid you will succeed. I sometimes meet these people, when I come back from a course that I followed. They see that I have changed and are afraid of losing me. So, they ask me to “behave” or become “normal” again. Hmm, interesting! Then, I have 2 choices, follow my instinct and really apply what I’ve learned or go back to my old pattern and nothing really changes. You see, only a minority actually creates changes in their life after attending a seminar or life changing course. Several try, but are brought back to their daily pattern by the ones surrounding them. They are afraid of losing you, when you are successful. Because you will change when you are successful, you’ll behave differently, have new friends, etc. So, this is what your current friends want to avoid. They are afraid of your success and so, they don’t let you be successful. And here I am, thinking that my friends would wish me all the best ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s at least what I am wishing for ALL my friends. If they are successful, I will still be wishing them even more success! It thought that’s what friends are for…encouraging each other, next to being there for them, whenever they need you.

Having said that, I know that you will not be influenced by what your friends and the people around you think about you. Of course, I am the only one ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, do you recognize any of these 2 types of people? I surely do. I could name a few ๐Ÿ™‚

Lessons learned : if you want to be successful and make a difference in the world, go on and be successful, don’t let others scare you with their fears! Everyone can make a difference!

Enjoy every day,

Bert Verdonck
Lifehacker & Life Coach
Create, Connect & Contribute


Today’s Contract

June 17, 2008

In today’s cell phone, internet, fast moving society we see a contrast with a few of the most common human challenges we face.

Fear and insecurity. A human basic need, but so many people today are gripped, almost paralysed with a sense of fear. The vulnerability often fosters a resignation to riskless living and to co-dependy (or is it interdependeny?) with others at work and at home. The problem, in my humble opinion (imho), is that we are living in an interdependent reality, and our most important accomplishments require interdependency skills well beyond our present (and future?) abilities.

Next is the lack of life balance. Our lives are increasingly complex, stressful and exhausting. For all our efforts to manage our time, do more, be more and achieve greater efficiency (through lifehacking?), why is it that we find ourselves in a situation of subordinating health, family, integrity and many of the things that matter most to our work? Go in earlier, work harder, more efficient, stay later and sacrifice more, seems to be bringing peace of mind, but is it really worth it? I don’t think so, but who am I to state that? I’ve been there (+100 hours/week for years), done that (bought the T-shirt if you like) and didn’t want it no more.

I consciously choose to do the work that I love (it hardly feels like work nowadays!), and focus on what I really want in live. I delegate “stuff” I don’t want to do or get rid of it in some way, so that I can dedicate almost all my time to enjoying what I do. I’d say I became pretty good at it by now ๐Ÿ™‚ And where are you? When do you start living (the life you really want)? What’s keeping you? When did you decide not to go easy on yourself? Get rid of that limiting believe and start living what you really dream of…I did it and so can you!

Something to think about, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Enjoy every day,
Bert Verdonck
Lifehacker & Coach


80% of success is…

June 11, 2008

80% of success is showing up!

Most people are too afraid to make it to the start or the meeting place or whatever you’re into. Why? Fear kills…

So, show up and you are more than halfway through!

Enjoy every day,
Bert Verdonck
Create, Connect & Contribute


Fear and anxiety?

March 21, 2008

Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organization, preparation, and action.

– David Kekich –

Indeed we often get a feeling of fear or anxiety when we are out of control or not prepared. Our mind plays games with usย and we feel uncomfortable. If we don’t take any action our mind blows up the issue at hand, doesn’t it? I learned a couple of lessons again recently ๐Ÿ˜‰

What about you? What’s your greatest fear? How do you deal with anxiety? Just get over it and move on? Sure, let’s do it!

Enjoy every day,

Bert Verdonck

Create, Connect & Contribute