Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I’d like to see you in better living conditions.
This is one of my favorite quotes by Hafez the poet. Because, if you’re like me, you’ve felt trapped in this old dingy hotel room of your fear. Stay tuned—on Moxie Talk we’re going to tell you how to walk out of that room and into the penthouse suite and away from your fear.
Hey everyone I’m Fia Fasbinder and welcome to Moxie Talk where we help you find your voice share your message and lead with confidence.
Today we’re talking about fear and this is going to be a wrap-up of a whole series of videos we’ve done about how to present and perform under high-stakes situations even when you’re quaking in your boots.
My Experience With Fear & Failing
Now I want to backtrack and tell you about my journey with fear because a lot of you don’t know this – I’m a firm believer that instruction manuals should be written by people that had to learn how to use them, and that is definitely me.
I started my journey to push past fear as a kid. I had parents that didn’t push me to be bold and audacious and take risks and fail forward. I was told to play it safe, which probably sounds familiar to a lot of you. Contrast that with my dream of being a performer which definitely requires you to take some risks.
I loved to perform—it’s what I thought my purpose on this earth was. I got into NYU’s acting school which is a very competitive acting school. They cut people every year. And the only people that succeed are people that are bold.
So this created a really huge tug-of-war/juxtaposition in me between:
– What I had been told as I was growing up and the way I had been raised
– And what I needed to do to be successful in this acting school
And that clash of voices in my head created a stage fright and a fear of performance that just washed over me.
Every time I got up to present or perform I would throw up backstage and I wouldn’t sleep for nights before. But I still pushed past this because I loved to perform so much. One day, during a broadway play where I got the opportunity to understudy, I had that actor’s worst nightmare where I just froze! Like no words coming out, deer in headlights, and I didn’t recover. In fact, the other actors had to improv some lines to help me off stage.
Needless to say, I was not invited back to understudy the next night. In fact, I stopped acting completely. I let this fear of failure completely take over me and for the next several years, I fell into a state of depression because I really wasn’t doing what felt like my purpose was in life.
The Fear Of Failure Is Worse Than Failing
Then one day I was offered the opportunity to teach a class at the 52nd street playhouse that brings acting lessons to inner-city youth in Harlem in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
I fell in love with acting again. I realized that I could use this gift to help people do something:
- to transform
- to find a sense of agency
- to find a sense of confidence
And it was in that moment that I felt the need again to push past this fear, get in front of people, and help them find their voices.
Fast forward about a decade and I was teaching public speaking at the University of California, San Diego. I realized that a lot of my clients needed help with Public Speaking on the side and I became so busy coaching those clients that I didn’t have much time to teach.
Again, I felt this ugly head of fear raising itself and I pushed past it to start Moxie Institute. And that has been seven years of purpose-driven coaching to help other people push past their fear.
There was a pivotal moment in those seven years, when I was coaching for TED events, where I was backstage behind the curtains peeking out watching one of my TED speakers. And for the first time in my life – I felt jealous of another performer. And in this case, it was my client! It’s not that I wished for them to have any less success, but I wanted to be that person on stage. I wanted to be the person getting up there and presenting in front of people.
I realized in a way I had been dancing around my fear, I had been going towards my fear but through the back door by helping other people get on stages and present instead of presenting myself.
Once again, I took this leap of faith – this terrifying step forward – to keynote and to lead workshops and training around helping people find confidence. And here we are today!
Thank you for listening to my story, I think it’s important that you know that I have been in your shoes.
Fear Less or Fearless?
Now another hard and fast mantra I have is that:
Nobody is fearless but people can fear less.
In fact, I think the only people that are fearless are schizophrenics and psychotics. Everybody gets scared – it just means it matters to you.
The work we do here at Moxie is to help you challenge that nervous energy into usable energy so:
- It doesn’t derail your performance or your presentation
- You sleep the night before
- You’re not throwing up backstage
Mark Twain has another quote that I love which is:
There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.
I’m going to piggyback this quote with something we said in acting school which is:
If you’re not nervous you’re dead.
Meaning, everybody living and breathing gets nervous. The other way I take this quote is that nervous energy can actually fuel our presentation if we learn how to challenge it right. If we learn how to channel it, it really helps us give lively presentations that you know aren’t boring.
Sometimes I watch speakers and I think: “God! I wish they had a little bit of nervous energy” because they’re just boring – they’re not alive.
We really work here at Moxie with our clients to help you recognize and acknowledge that nervous energy, (and sometimes more than nervous energy it might be like full-blown anxiety in fight-or-flight), to acknowledge it, recognize it, and then channel it.
Channeling Nerves and Anxiety
Let’s talk about the channeling part a little bit. Now every athlete out there, every pro athlete and every elite performer knows that fear is a sidekick to doing something that matters to you.
You have to push past this fear if you want the reward on the other side—you must! But for some reason, as speakers and presenters, we think this fear means that we shouldn’t be doing that thing that scares us.
That we should turn down the opportunity, in fact we shouldn’t even try for the opportunity, we shouldn’t even put ourselves out there because we feel afraid.
Can you imagine if SuperBowl athletes did this?
If they didn’t put themselves out there to be on some kind of NFL team because they were afraid? No Way! But we do this as speakers, we do this as communicators.
And I really, truly believe that there is a direct correlation between what we want most in life and what we fear most – that this fear is almost a GPS for our soul.
When we stay in our comfort zone, when we don’t push past that fear, it chips away at our soul. If we don’t try, if we just play it safe, we end up living a life where we think:
“Gosh! Could I have started that business? Would it have been successful? Should I have gone for that job interview? Should I have tried for that sale? What if I had passed that interview? What if I had put myself out there? What if I had given that presentation to the executive team?”
And we live this life of wondering and regret. The other thing to know is that most of our fear is not going to happen. We talked about this in a previous vlog.
But this is your body’s attempt to keep you from doing something that it thinks is a threat. Now, of course, it’s scary, of course the threats feel real, but there’s a greater threat of not doing it at all. So the work we do here at Moxie and the work we do in our fear less classes is all-around helping you crush your limiting beliefs so you can push past that fear.
Notice I never said conquer that fear because I don’t believe that anybody conquers fear. Fear is an emotion—that’s like conquering love. Instead of conquering, if we learn to acknowledge it and work with it and channel it. We work on acknowledging those limiting beliefs and then pushing past them.
The most heartfelt, purpose-driven and passionate work of my life is when I get to work with clients that had a fear of public speaking and they learn to share their message with the world. Messages about preventing child abuse, messages about providing free transportation to kids with cancer, messaging about funding music to be in low-income schools, messaging about projects around environmental issues.
We are so privileged here at Moxie to get to help people like you share your message that might otherwise think: “It’s too scary, I can’t do it, I’m just gonna stay in my safe place.”
I really encourage you with this, if you are one of those people, if you’re reading this blog and it resonates with you and you’re thinking: “I really would like to take that leap of faith. And really would like to try this hard thing. And I really would like to do that scary thing because I know in my heart the reward on the other side is greater.”
Then I would love for you to join our fearless community and take our fear less class. Learn about the seven B’s of fearless public speaking and make a commitment to yourself to look that fear in the face and say: “I see you! you’re not going to drive this car anymore. I’m going to ask you to sit in the back seat and I’m going to drive this car to a destination that I have been wanting for so long in my life.”
With that, I say I hope I see you all there. Please join our community, share this blog and subscribe to our newsletters and youtube channel if you want more videos about public speaking and presentation skills.
For more information about Moxie Institute, check out moxieinstitute.com look at all of our training options our one-on-one coaching options we would love to see you there and work with you.