“That was even worse than the last take! I look terrible! I’m even balder than I thought! I sound like a robot! A drunk slurry robot! There must be a presenting talent gene that I don’t have. I can’t bare to watch myself back any more. There’s no way I’m going to let anyone else see it. I just can’t do this!”
I was very much regretting agreeing to produce a short video for the Pluralsight Authors Summit. I’d never filmed myself before I had know idea what I was getting myself into. I was best man at my brother’s wedding, giving the speech in front of all of those people too some guts. But speeches are talking to people, something natural that we do every day. It’s not the same as talking into a camera, which doesn’t feel at all natural at first.
Then I read a free chapter of Jon Sonmez’s new book Soft Skills – Chapter 26 – Don’t be afraid to look like an idiot
It can be embarrassing to hear your voice on a podcast or to see your face on video. But if you want to be successful at your efforts, you have to learn to stop caring about what people think. You have to learn how to not be afraid to look like an idiot.
Sometimes you already know something in your heart but being able to hear someone else say it or read someone’s writing on it makes all the difference. Just having your own views validated like that can really strengthen your resolve. Everything is hard at first and everyone starts off knowing nothing about a new subject area. Most people give up too soon because it’s always easier to give up than keep ploughing on.
Last night I watched Cool Runnings, a classic story of Jamaican sprinters who missed out on going to the Olympics and decided they could get there by forming a bobsled team. In theory with their amazing speed they could be the best. It was only once they started practicing that they realized how much more to it there was than just running fast. They were starting from scratch against the world’s best, and also faced a lot of unfair hostility from many people.
They tried to imitate the magnificent Swiss team, but found that it didn’t help at all. They learned that in order to succeed they had to be themselves and proud of who they were. They went on to impress many people and win over the skeptics.
Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. – Arthur Golden
They weren’t winners in terms of medals, but they became winners in terms of achieving well over and above the expectations set be their underdog status.
Do not fear the winds of adversity. Remember: A kite rises against the wind rather than with it.
So I set about trying it again. And again. And I watched it back and it was still terrible. But slightly less terrible than before. I found that standing up helps, learning my lines certainly helps and speaking with some degree of passion, can make a big difference. Eventually I was able to produced something that I felt was acceptable quality. Not great, but the most important thing I noticed was the gradual incremental improvement. Who knows, many one day I might even be able to be a good presenter. Maybe even a great one! Perhaps best not get too carried away!
It doesn’t matter if you’re taking little steps and slowly getting accustomed to the temperature of the water or if you jump right in and make a big splash in the deep-end.
You’re going to feel uncomfortable, you’re likely going to be scared—possibly even terrified—but it will pass. If you keep on going and you’re willing to face those challenges head on, if you’re willing to look like an idiot—for a short period of time—you’ll succeed where most people fail, and I guarantee it will be worth it.