in·oc·u·late – To introduce an idea or attitude into the mind of (thefreedictionary.com)
Our perception of what is “scary” or even “terrifying” can be purposefully changed, forever.
Jumping out of an airplane could generally be described as such for the vast majority of us. Terrifying would likely be the most used term by first time skydivers if they were being totally honest. This experience is often times compared to other traumatic events the person may have experienced in the past, such as a car accident, or being in a fistfight. The adrenaline dump in the body can be intense and intimidating.
BASE Jumpers (People that jump off Buildings, Antennaes, Spans/bridges and Earth/cliffs with a parachute) describe experiences and fear levels that make skydiving seem like riding a bike through the park. A close friend told me about the dramatic change in the way he felt during skydives after he experienced BASE Jumping (a lot of BASE Jumpers are also avid skydivers). His fear level dropped off significantly when skydiving. Taking himself to another level of fear “re-calibrated” what he considered “scary”.
Compared to BASE jumping, skydiving became a very relaxing event that barely raised his pulse. It simply wasn’t scary or intimidating anymore. BASE jumping was the “Stress Inoculation” that made things that used to be scary, just fun. His perception had been altered. Losing his fear of skydiving made him much better at it. He still has a healthy respect for it’s dangers, but now he is able to do so much more, see things he used to miss and spend his extra energy helping others excel and become safer skydivers. Not being consumed with fear frees up a ton of energy that you can pour into more productive areas of your chosen profession or life in general.
It’s no mystery that Public Speaking is one of the top fears we have as humans. The first step we must take to conquer and squash this fear becomes obvious. We have to accept the fact that speaking in front of a bunch of judging eyes, noting every word, phrase and movement is going to be scary, even terrifying at times…at least for a little while. (I’m going to blast right past the importance of preparation and it’s direct effect on confidence etc.) At your next presentation or speech, take a mental note of what fear does to you. Do your legs get heavy? Do your hands get cold and shake a little? Does your fear spike too much if you fumble a word? Watch other speakers and look at their reactions that may be the result of fear, stress or adrenaline. What does fear look like and how does it come out in others? You get the point. We’re measuring for a baseline here that will come in handy after your opportunity for a “Stress Inoculation”.
Many of you are, very likely, comfortable presenting, teaching, preaching or speaking to a certain type of crowd. Maybe with the same beliefs? Maybe it’s a class you have taught for years and it’s basically an “autopilot” presentation for you? For others, you’re more comfortable talking in front of people than when you started, but you still get pretty nervous. It might be that you are still petrified every time and it doesn’t seem to be improving much at all? Whichever group you are in, you should seriously think about finding a “Stress Inoculation” sooner than later.Whatever your skill set, go find a more intimidating venue to speak or present at. Find a conference or workshop for example, approach the organizers and offer to speak on your niche for free (your likely going to get as much out of it as they are). If it makes you nervous, good. That may be the beginning of your move to the next level of your profession. Not, next level as in climbing the corporate ladder etc. More, the next level in developing a very high level of confidence that will dramatically improve your game at your current position.
What you will find by actively and purposefully pursuing that “Inoculation”, is that your fear and stress level will decrease a lot. After battling through and succeeding in an environment that was scary and intimidating, other things that used to scare you simply don’t have that effect anymore.
The awesome thing about stress inoculations is that they increase performance in many other seemingly unrelated areas of your life. Your baseline confidence will go up noticeably. You’ll have a little more teeth in life. You’ll start to own your profession.
What is your next stress inoculation?