“We must travel in the direction of our fear.”
–John Berryman

If you only knew me 15 years ago.  In high school I took a required class called “speech.”  Each student needed to stand up and give a 1 minute talk, then 2 minutes, then 5, then 10, then a 30 minute talk over the course of the semester.  If you could not fill the time with words you simply had to stand there for your allotted time.

According to the Book of Lists the fear of public speaking ranks number one in the minds of the majority of people. Far above the fear of death and disease, comes the fear of standing in front of a crowd.  I remember standing in front of the class, mortified of public speaking, and having nothing to say to fill my time.

If you had told me then that my day job would involve presenting on stage for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, I would have said you’re insane.  I remember one day realizing that I needed to round out my skills by confronting those that I feared most (and did poorly).  I applied to as many conferences as I could and eventually some accepted me (call it the law of numbers).  The first few presentations were bad, but facing my fear helped me erode it.

A few years later, I was swapping entertainment and public speaking tips with friends and could not wait to get on stage again.  Today, you can put me in front of a crowd and I’ll talk continuously until you pull me off and send me home.  I’ll talk your ear off if you listen long enough.  I confronted my fear and turned it into a profession.

When you fear something, face it head on.  Do not give in.  Do not run from it.  Travel in the direction of it.