Stop Limiting YourselfJan 24, 2022
This past weekend I spoke at an event in Raleigh, North Carolina. I'm pretty new to public speaking—at least, on a stage, with lighting, and music blasting as you head out on stage.
It was also my first time in Raleigh, and I had some really nice conversations with both people I met at the event, and local workers in the service industry: waitresses, hotel staff, Lyft drivers, etc.
In today's post I want to share what seems to have been a common theme during this trip.
Stop limiting yourself.
Like a lot of people—maybe most—public speaking scares me a little. It is actually one of my few remaining fears, as I regularly try to make an effort of identifying and overcoming my fears.
When this opportunity came up, I knew I needed to go for it. I've been prepping for weeks: writing my keynote, reading articles and books on public speaking and presenting, watching courses. I even hired a vocal coach to help me with my articulation and presentation.
In the end I was prepared, but it's something I still need more practice at.
Getting to know the other speakers the day before and the day of the event was helpful, too. We have a tendency to compare ourselves to others, even when we might have completely different backgrounds, experience, and skills. Our objectives and expectations are also likely very different.
Anyway, these conversations helped me put things in perspective. I probably won't be awesome, but it's unlikely I'll bomb, either. In the end I was right. I did lose my train of thought a couple of times due to nerves, but I was able to save the moment, and I'm sure this will become easier over time with more experience under my belt.
I also want to share some of my experiences outside of the event.
While in Raleigh I had time to walk around and explore the city a bit, and try out a few restaurants. Everyone I met was extremely friendly. Perhaps it seems more so due to the fact that I currently live in New York City.
Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of friendly people in New York, but I think the sheer number of people, the constant noise and stress gets to people. Normally friendly people avoid making eye contact or greeting each other. We need to work on this, New Yorkers!
Back in Raleigh, one particular conversation I had with a young woman at the hotel has stuck in my mind. The conversation started as small talk over breakfast, but she proceeded to open up and share with me some bits about her life.
She mentioned that, in addition to working at the hotel, she works flex at Amazon—putting in hours here and there as she can.
When I asked her what she would like to be doing, she hesitated for a moment, and confided in me that her mother had never been very supportive of anything she wanted to do. She seemed to have never really thought about what she might like doing as a career. She was only aware of what career opportunities might be available to someone like her in the area.
She was limiting herself.
She mentioned family members and friends who worked at places like Walmart, some of them for up to 25-30 years. She mentioned her brother who wanted to become a dentist, but after going to school for several years was unable to find good employment.
I know from reading, and from speaking with people like this friendly hotel worker, that this is an all to common story.
Too many people are limiting themselves. I don't even think this is a conscious thing. It seems a lot of people are simply unaware of what is possible in their life.
All of us have limitless potential. There is very little we cannot achieve without support and motivation, which is sad because support and motivation are so easy to give!
Next time someone tells you an idea they have that sounds stupid or crazy to you, try to refrain from being negative and try supporting their idea. If something they say sounds unrealistic to you, hear them out and then try to help them figure out how this thing could actually be achieved.
And if you find your family and friends aren't being supportive of something important to you, please find new friends, or reach out to me.
I understand deeply the value of supporting and motivating people, and I'll do what I can to help you break the chains that bind you and turn your potential and aspirations into reality.
Stop limiting yourself, and start supporting others. But the decision starts with you.
Are you with me?
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