Updated: Oct 31, 2019
Did you know that 98% of the population, if presented with a choice to step out of their comfort zone, would stay in their comfort zone? That means that, when presented with the choice, only 2% take that leap. Wow!
One beautiful spring morning, a naturalist decided he was going to take a trip out to the country to explore. As he walked down an old dirt road admiring the assortment of wildlife one would find in the country he happened across an old farm. The naturalist stood on the rickety old fence to get a good look at the farm animals. He saw the pigs in their pen, the cows grazing in the pasture, and the horses in their stables. What happened next really threw his naturalist brain for a loop. As his line of sight met the chicken coop, he noticed something strange and… unnatural. There feeding with the rest of the chickens was a fully-grown bald eagle! “What was such a magnificent animal doing in a chicken coop?” he thought.
Bewildered, the naturalist quickly ran to the front door and knocked. The door opened. “Well, howdy there friend!” said the farmer. “Hi there,” said the naturalist. “I couldn’t help but notice that you have an eagle in your chicken coop.” The farmer stood there a moment, looked out at the chicken coop and replied, “Nope, that there’s a chicken.” At first, the naturalist thought the farmer was joking and so he began to laugh. The farmer stood there and said, “It’s true, one day as I was out feeding them chickens, I noticed a rather large egg and thought to myself, hmm that’s one large chicken egg and so I put it in with the rest of them eggs. When the egg hatched I thought, hmm that’s one strange looking chicken.” The farmer was actually convinced the eagle was a chicken. Somewhat confused at the farmer’s response the naturalist said, “Tomorrow, I will prove to you that it is an eagle.”
The next morning the naturalist returned ready to prove the farmer wrong. He went and picked up the eagle, set it on the top of the fence and said, “You are an eagle! Fly!” The eagle looked at the naturalist, looked back at the chicken coop, leaped off the fence and went back to feeding with the chickens. The farmer said, “I done told you mister, that there’s a chicken.” Frustrated, the naturalist replied, “Listen, tomorrow I will prove to you that it’s an eagle.”
The next morning the naturalist returned ready to prove the farmer wrong. He went and picked up the eagle, but this time he climbed up to the roof of the barn and whispered to the eagle, “You are an eagle! Fly!” The eagle looked at the naturalist, looked back at the chicken coop, glided off the roof and went back to feeding with the chickens. The farmer said, “Ha! I done told you mister, that there’s a chicken!” Confused, the naturalist replied, “That’s it, tomorrow I will prove to you that it’s an eagle.
The next morning the naturalist returned ready to prove the farmer wrong. He went and picked up the eagle, but this time he, the farmer, and the eagle climbed a tall mountain. The naturalist set the eagle on the edge of the cliff and said, “You are an eagle! Fly!” The eagle looked at the naturalist and then looked out over the cliff. It saw the endless sky, the breathtaking view, and rolling hills and fields as far as the eye could see. It finally realized its endless potential and what it had been missing all these years. The eagle spread its six-foot wingspan, began to flap its wings, and let the wind take it higher and higher soaring to new heights. The naturalist looked at the farmer who stood silent in amazement and said, “I done told you mister. That there’s an eagle.”
I know what you are thinking. “I’m here to learn about how to get over the fear of public speaking?” I am here to tell you that it has everything to do with getting over the fear of public speaking. Allow me to explain. The eagle in the fable is you. The chicken coop represents your comfort zone. The feeding pen, the barn, and the mountain represent various stages of conquering that public speaking fear because we all know that it can only be done in stages. I am confident that, not unlike the eagle, you realize deep down that there is something more to you and your potential, especially when it comes to getting over the fear of speaking in front groups.
The eagle in the story is you. The chicken coop is your comfort zone and the farmer represents all of the people (or even you) who have somehow convinced yourself that stepping out of your comfort zone is a bad idea. The farmers can even be traumatic experiences that you once had that has led you to a fear of speaking in front of groups. I am here to tell you now that you are all eagles living in the chicken coop! You have wings or the potential to soar to new heights!
Just like the eagle in the story, there are three steps to take to discover your wings and to finally get over the fear of speaking in front of groups.
Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
Here is the conundrum… The issue is that the most important actions we take in life are often the most uncomfortable ones. In my experience, the number one thing that you will need to sacrifice to be great at public speaking, to achieve what you are truly capable of, is your comfort. So we have to learn to destygmatize the discomfort. Realize everyone gets uncomfortable and that it is part of our human biology. We simply need to learn where to channel that energy. See it as a burden shared by many. You are part of a community of human beings experiencing one feeling at this very moment. Watch what happens to your thought process when you get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Dispel the Negativity
One you have realized that being uncomfortable is okay and a stepping stone to finding your wings; the next step is to dispel any negative thoughts. Easier said than done right? When your brain starts spinning negative memories or scenarios, remind yourself that you may not be getting an accurate picture of reality. Your brain might be following its negativity bias, creating some hypothetical situation that is not true. Realize it is an optical illusion of sorts and adjust your thinking. Imagine you are having an out of body experience and looking at yourself. One little person in this world having this experience at this time. Imagine the negativity as chatter from a radio and turn down the volume or even shut the radio off and set it aside. Being mindful of the emotions and feelings you are feeling and then gaining control and shifting is the key here. Again, try it and see what happens to your thought process.
Create a New Reality
Decide to change your belief about what happened or may happen (called cognitive reappraisal) effectively turns down the brain’s stress levels. Its sounds far-fetched, but this is actually proven to be one of the most rational actions to take. It can help you get in the right frame of mind. For example, you are watching a presentation at work and the person is giving the most boring presentation you have ever experienced. You mind is telling you that this person is not competent and does not have any credibility. Try creating a new reality, one that is different from your initial thoughts. Ask yourself, “This person is a parent of a newborn. She was probably up late with their infant.” Alternatively, “Maybe this person is operating on a tight deadline and is not in the right frame of mind right now.” Assuming positive intent in yourself and others is creating a new reality. Try it out! It works.
At the end of the fable of The Eagle and the Chicken Coop, the eagle only spread its winds and flew when it saw what it was missing. Seeing the world from the top of the mountain increased the eagle’s perspective. That is what getting over the fear of public speaking and stepping outside of your comfort zone can do for you… increase your perspective and take you to new heights in your life that you never thought possible.
So with that being said allow me to say to you, "YOU ARE AN EAGLE...FLY!!"
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