I had a first time mentoring session with a new member of our Toastmasters club this morning. One of the subjects that came up in our conversation was the general “fear of public speaking” that is common in society today. You may recall that the #1 fear that people have according to a popular survey is Glossophobia – the fear of speaking in public. A fear that outclasses even death, which means that overall, people would rather die than have to speak in public.
One point that my newly minted mentee had pointed out in his life was that in certain situations, like giving a technical briefing in front of his department of fellow engineers, he had no fear of speaking or presenting. In other situations, like simply explaining the role of “Grammarian and Ah Counter” to our group of Toastmasters, he had the proverbial abdominal butterfly swarm. Why was this?
The Pain / Pleasure Principle
I harkened back to my days with the Anthony Robbins companies, where Tony explains that every human behavior, every action that we as people take, we do for one of two reasons: to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. Sometimes we use productive vehicles to meet these needs, like we may choose to work 40-60 hours per week (pain) in order to have a nice car, a decent home, and a spouse who is happy that you are a good provider (pleasure). As long as your pleasure is greater than the pain, you will plow through the pain to gain or maintain the pleasure. Sometimes we choose poor vehicles, such as when we are going through a difficult time in our lives (pain) a person could turn to drugs as an avoidance mechanism (pleasure). The pain of “reality” can be greater than the perceived pain with taking the drug over the pleasure the drug gives them, however temporary, and they choose a poor vehicle to dissipate or hide from the pain.
PPP In Action
Likewise, I explained to this new Toastmaster that his pain/pleasure mechanism could very well be the operational factor in his nervousness with public speaking. At work, he wants to be a good team leader, a good employee, a valuable member of the team, and he possesses a high desire to please his superiors (multiple overlapping pleasure factors are present) and his fear of public speaking (pain) is totally eclipsed by his desire to serve and add value at his place of business. At the workplace, fear of public speaking actually a non-factor. In contrast, being a new member of our Toastmaster club, he has yet to build such a bond with his fellow speakers, and his desire to contribute and serve is currently smaller than his pain of public speaking, even with such a simple task as explaining what your role is for that meeting in two sentences.
By changing your focus from the pain you may experience to the pleasure you may gain, what fears in your life, fears that may be holding you back from a certain area in your life, can you overcome? Does the fear of rejection prevent you from feeling the ultimate pleasure of having a great relationship? Does the fear of making a wrong decision prevent you from making any decision at all like whether or not you should venture out in that new career? Does the pleasure of all kinds of food eclipse the supposed pain of living a disciplined dietary and activity lifestyle that long term will give you a better life expectancy and quality of life?
What if you changed your focus and made the empowering emotion much more powerful. In the examples above, with your relationships, you would focus totally on the joy and fun and laughter and the amazing life you will have with the man/woman of your dreams that you will plow through dozens of candidates with no fear of rejection at all… it would just be part of the pleasure seeking process! What if you took hold of the excitement, the variety, and the opportunity that being an entrepreneur will afford you and you now see your current career as stifling, a dead end, and a true illusion of safety? You will leap out of your cushy office and now be excited about getting up early and staying up late and making your dream come true… even if it takes two, seven, or twenty attempts to do so! And what if you focused on the energy, the control, and the pride of having a well toned, energetic, and fit body that you can offer to your current or future spouse… that pound cake doesn’t look too appetizing anymore, does it?
So, the moral of the story is, and the question to you, is what do I have to magnify and what to I have to trivialize in order to overcome or accomplish something in my life that to this point you have been unable to achieve? What dragons do you want to or need to slay right now to move you forward in some area(s) of your life? Make today the break – identify the dragons in your life by shining a light on them, and I would not be surprised that once you see the dragon for what it is, you will find that the shadow they have been casting is actually much bigger than the dragon itself, and you will be able to overcome them with ease.
What dragons do you need to slay? What fears do you need to overcome? Leave a comment and let’s join in the battle together!