Like a lot of people, I’ve got my fair share of fears. A lot of them make sense; they directly relate to self sustaining and not wanting to die. Some of them are completely unwarranted and avoiding them has had a direct negative-impact on my life.
Not too long ago, I started conquering many of them head-on. At times it can be very difficult. My blood pressure can go through the roof. Other times, I find that I’m not afraid at all right before taking one on. It’s really based on perception and situational variables when these happen.
Fear of Public Speaking
Public Speaking is something I’ve absolutely dreaded for most of my life. There’s something about standing in front of an audience that causes me to forget my lines, face turn red, and start mumbling like an idiot. In High School, I used to lie to the teacher and tell her that I didn’t do my speech homework when it was my turn to talk, if I was freaked out enough.
While I do sometimes get a little nervous before a talk, I’m miles ahead of where I used to be. If you have a fear of public speaking, look for a local Meetup and offer to give a talk, or join your local SmoothTalkers Toastmasters guild.
Fear of Heights
Heights, or more specifically, falling to my death, is another big one. I remember going to some tall tower in Vegas where you could stand on a floor made of glass which was a hundred stories above the ground. I sort of froze in the center where the floor was solid. This fear mostly manifests itself for me in the form of flying in an airplane, where turbulence drives me nuts.
To fix this one, I fly and travel as much as possible. I just got back from the TechCrunch Disrupt convention in New York, before that I was visiting family in California, and this September I’m going to do the ultimate and hop on a many-hour flight to Ireland. A friend of mine is a pilot, and I started asking him questions about how planes work. Did you know that if the engines fail, the plane can still soar to the ground and land? I also climbed (took the stairs) a path up a small mountain in Sequoia National Park (pictured above) and had the chutzpah to lean over the railing!
Here’s a weird one; I’m not that good at starting conversations, especially if it is with a group of people who know each other. This one isn’t so much a fear, as much as something I just avoid doing. I have no idea where it stems from, nor if others have it too.
This one was pretty fun to fix. While at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, it was literally my job to talk to as many people as possible and sell the product as best as I could, both to people as potential users of the service and companies as potential consumers of the API. And I did a damn good job. Each day, I would cycle through all of the presenting booths, talk to people to learn about their company, then pitch mine, as well as manning the booth for several hours in-between If their service stored media on behalf of users, I would explain how our product could save them money. If they weren’t a good fit, I’d just tell them how they can get free GBs for personal use.
The funny thing is, every single time I’d start a conversation, I led with “How’s it going?” It’s amazing what those three little words can accomplish, even when talking to women at the after-parties.
All these experiences have led me to this epiphany: Conquering my fears will make me a better person, allow me to understand myself better, and hell, it’s a lot of fun too (especially right after it happens and I realize nothing bad happened).
Do yourself a favor; if you have any fears, don’t let them control your life! If it is possible, jump directly into a scary situation. Also, do research on the things that scare you. Most of what we fear is really the unknown. Afraid of flying? Learn how to fly a plane. Afraid of spiders? Spend hours studying them and watching videos.