top of page

5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

In my early career, I didn't like public speaking. I remember my first telephone interview on 5fm in 2007 - we had a chance to get some great exposure for GetSmarter on a national radio station, and I was lined up to talk with DJ Fresh. To say that I was terrified would be a massive understatement. I wrote down exactly what I wanted to say, and planned my answers to any number of questions he might ask. Then the big day came, my moment to present our business to the world... and I was superbly average. You could hear the anxiety in my voice - I answered the questions, but there was no soul, and certainly no dynamism. It sounded scripted, rehearsed, and not very compelling. I got off the call, and my first thought was, "I never want to do that again."

That thought didn't last very long though.

Public speaking is an important part of leadership, and there was a seemingly endless stream of times that it's needed in the early days of our business. I was still scared as hell, but I made a simple decision - before I let my brain even think about it, I would take every single opportunity to speak in front of people. No matter how big or small the opportunity to speak, I decided that I was going to just keep hammering away at this challenge until my resistance against it diminished.

It took about two years, and probably 150 - 200 times of speaking in front of small and large groups of people before I got comfortable with it. My ability to speak in public definitely improved over time, but what I believe I actually got really good at was jumping at the opportunity to speak every single time. The former is a consequence of the latter, and the latter is the thing that actually matters. It seems like a minor distinction, but I think it's the key to any level of success in this world:

How do you get yourself to actually do the thing you know you need to do, to get to where you want to go, if only you weren't scared?

We all know what we need to do to be more successful, but the fear and resistance inside every one of us convinces us to lower our standards, pretend we don't care, redirect our energies, or try to pull down other people who are doing the things we wish we had the guts to do. Our lizard brains are wired for security, and sticking to the known. Stay here, it tells us, don't venture into the unknown. It's safe and warm here in the cave. The problem is that eventually the food runs out, and no matter how much we try to reframe it psychologically, we start wasting away.

So how do we overcome this resistance? Is there a reliable way of overcoming the innate desire in all of us to stay safe? How do we get to the other side?

It sounds insanely simple, but I have yet to find a better way of overcoming resistance.

Your alarm goes off in the morning and you don't want to get out of bed to exercise? Simply countdown 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and jump out of bed. As you start counting down, you trust that you have the fortitude and the bravery to do what you need to do. Each number brings you a little closer, you feel a little more resolute, until bam! You're up.

You're about to go on a blind date, and you've been off the scene for a while. You're feeling super awkward about going because your last blind date was a disaster. You're about to send a what's app message to cancel, but you know that if you do, you have an exactly 0% chance of potentially meeting a great partner for you. You're sick and tired of being alone, and it stops today. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... jump in the car. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... walk into the restaurant. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... tell them you'd like to see them again.

You've been asked to speak at a friend's 30th birthday party, but you're scared as hell of public speaking. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

You need to have a difficult conversation with your manager. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

You need to stop watching junk on TV, and rather go meditate. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

You need to get back to your studies. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

What is the one thing that you already know that you need to do today to create a more beautiful life for you and those around you? Take a deep breath in, countdown from 5 - 1, and go make it happen.


Subscribe to my blog posts
bottom of page