How my biggest humiliation ironically revealed my greatest strength
I am a little bit uncomfortable sharing this story but I feel that it is important for people to know the “real me” and how I started out and some of the obstacles that I have managed to overcome.
I also call the story, “From a Whisper to a Roar”, because like so many others out there, I used to be terrified of public speaking. My fear stemmed from something that happened in my childhood.
When I was just six years old, I was in the choir. I was so excited. It was the first time I was ever going to perform in public and it did not occur to me to be nervous.
The choir was going to be singing to accompany the Christmas Pageant.
All the children in the school had been practicing the whole year, and about a week before the pageant was about to take place, the choir mistress said, “The choir doesn’t sound quite right.”
She made all of us sing for her in front of the whole school. And she approved every person. Yes, you’re good. You’re amazing. You’re wonderful. You’re great.
Until it came to me.
And then she said, “No. You’re terrible, you’re off the choir.”
Everybody else stayed in the choir, except me.
I was so upset, because I wanted to be in the pageant. So I went asked the other teacher if I could be in the pageant, perhaps as a sheep or a rock or something. And you know what they said? “No, because you haven’t practiced being a sheep or a rock with everybody in the pageant for the whole year.”
I was just so embarrassed and ashamed. I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought that every word that came out of my mouth was just bad, to be honest.
I became really quiet and shy. I know it’s hard to believe that now, but I did. I pretty much stopped talking to people because I thought my words were rubbish.
If you know me at all now, you’ll know that my clients call me the Legal Lioness. I am a keynote speaker, and present confidently in court.
I have rediscovered the voice that I lost as a six-year old kid because of an ignorant choir mistress. Now I love talking to business groups. I love sharing messages about legal requirements in businesses, about intellectual property. That is my passion. Explaining how business owners can keep their businesses safe from business bullies.
I have defended clients in Court by standing up and speaking confidently.
None of this came easily to me. I was terrified of public speaking.
In fact, when I did my law degree, I was so terrified of speaking that if I had known from the start that I would have to present a mock court case in order to graduate, honestly, I would never, ever have studied law. I found about having to present a mock court case in the last year of my 5-year course.
Even when I presented in court the first few times, my throat would close up, I’d get the runs. I would feel physically ill. It was terrible.
But through practice, when I started my own business, I decided, “that’s it, I’m not going to let my terror of public speaking haunt me anymore”.
And so I just started practicing, little bits at a time.
If you have a fear of public speaking, I am hearing you. I get it, I couldn’t even breath when I just thought about speaking in public.
My advice is if you don’t want to do public speaking, then don’t. Don’t make anybody push you.
But if you want to do public speaking, my recommendation is to start with little things. Introduce yourself at a group dinner, things like that. Know your material really well, because that gives you confidence.
If I can overcome my fear of public speaking, and if I can go from a whisper to a roar, there is no way that you can’t do it.
That is how my biggest humiliation revealed my greatest strength, and now that’s irony for you.