A wolf, a chihuahua and a parrot walk into a bar.
They get drunk on pitchers of cheap beer.
Chihuahua brawls with a tatted-up biker dude.
Parrot orders a bowl of nachos and chicken wings.
Wolf threatens to eat parrot when nachos are slow to arrive.
They send out for Thai food, which is delivered by bicycle to a bunch of talking animals who don’t have any money.
Wolf chokes on a chicken wing.
Then it was my turn.
I joined Toastmasters yesterday and it pushed all my public speaking fear buttons (and some other buttons about getting picked last.)
Do you know Toastmasters? It’s an international organization that systematically teaches you public speaking and leadership skills. It’s horrifying!
And invigorating. Electrifying. Daunting. Challenging. Provoking of hyperventilation and pants-peeing fear.
Who volunteers for this?
I’d visited several clubs before the holidays and like the energy and variety of this club, Land of Sky Toastmasters. They are very supportive, lots of applause for speakers. They even vote for “Best of…” and award certificates at the end of every meeting.
I haven’t been afraid of speaking in public since I choked during a speech in seventh grade. I decided then and there to conquer the public speaking fear once and for all.
And I did.
With one caveat.
That I’m prepared and I’ve practiced.
I’ve always told myself that I don’t do well speaking spontaneously and that I’m not a good story-teller. I struggle, too, with conclusions…summing up and making that final point. (And, I was scarred a little by being picked last for team sports when I was in school. I sucked at team sports. Okay, all sports.)
Be careful what you tell yourself! The Universe has a sense of humor.
Turns out, Toastmasters has a special treat called Table Topics.
In Table Topics, people are called on randomly to speak off the cuff about a topic they most likely know nothing about. Good times! Usually, it takes the form of a question, which is based on a theme of the day. Yesterday, though, it was a story round robin. Tell part of a story, then pick someone else to keep it going.
The Universe is hilarious!
All my public speaking buttons pushed before the sun even came up, with a dollop of grade school rejection thrown in for good measure.
Spontaneous speaking? Check.
In the form of a story? Check
Getting picked last? Check.
Which meant I had to draw the story to a close. Oh, boy.
I had ten minutes to stand there either thinking about how I would bomb, or thinking something else. The choice was mine.
Here’s what went through my mind while I stood waiting for my turn:
- Is it too late to sit down?
- OMG, OMG, OMG, OMG.
- You can do this, Deane.
- “The Universe is feeding me my lines.”
- I’ve got this. I can do this.
- Emergency tracheotomy.
Good news! I lived to tell the story. Two stories, actually.
My story, of raising my hand to face fears that will make me grow, speaks to the bigger story of how the Universe operates when you put your hand in the air and say “Yes.”
- Life can turn on a dime. You’re not a slave to thoughts you’ve nurtured for 50 years. In an instant you can decide to change your thoughts and change the trajectory of your life.
- You don’t have to be positive 24/7 to succeed. The Universe is incredibly responsive to any effort toward success. So, if three out of five of your thoughts are aligned with your success, you’ll get there.
- Getting to your goals is uncomfortable. I’m all about following the fun, and growth IS fun. You have to stretch to grow your success muscles, though, which will cause some discomfort. Like getting sore after a new exercise practice, however, it will be that hurts-so-good pain where you know you’ve done something good for yourself.
- The Universe wants you to succeed. The Universe is cheering you on and rooting for you. When you show up, do your part, squirm with discomfort, success is guaranteed. The Universe loves to see you squirm and rewards you for your giant leaps AND your baby steps.
Here’s what happened to the Wolf, the Chihuahua and the Parrot:
The wolf, choking on a chicken wing, gasped for air and begged for help. The parrot set aside his fear of being eaten and performed an emergency tracheotomy on the wolf. He saved his life on the peanut-strewn floor of the bar. The wolf was so grateful and so relieved. He swore never to eat the parrot. They hugged. The chihuahua and the tatted-up biker dude joined in for a group hug. Everyone lived happily ever after. The end.
Here’s what happened to me:
I was voted the “Best Table Topics Presenter” and awarded a certificate! Wooooo Hooooo!
All hail the power of the Universe!
My question for you today, then, is this. What kind of hurts-so-good discomfort will you raise your hand for today?
Leave a comment below and make it public.