How Toastmasters helped me overcome fear of failure

Posted by on Oct 18, 2013 in Achieving Goals | 6 comments

This week I gave my 10th speech in Toastmasters, completing the Competent Communicator manual and achieving my CC certification. After being a regular member of Toastmasters for over a year-and-a-half I have become an accomplished speaker. Even still, when it came time to give my 10th speech I was woefully nervous and felt under-prepared.

As sometimes happens in life other things got in the way of my preparations, and I saved the most challenging speech for last. I thought about backing out at the last minute, postponing my speech so I could do a better job but I knew that was just the fear talking. I was afraid of making a fool of myself in front of my club giving my 10th speech. I was afraid of stumbling over my words. I was afraid of failing but I didn’t let it stop me from accomplishing something great- giving my 10th speech and becoming a Competent Communicator.

I found the courage to overcome my fear of failure from the regular encouragement and motivation I get from my fellow Toastmasters, from getting up in front of my club every week, from acknowledging my strengths and weaknesses and building on them, and from a speech given by another Toastmaster.

Recently a fellow Toastmaster, Matthew Britt, gave a speech on failure. He talked about giving up the things that aren’t right for you and moving on to things that are. What really stuck with me was his suggestion to fail fast. Fail fast, fail often, until you’re not afraid of failing anymore- until failure is not failure.

Fail fast, fail often, until you’re not afraid of failing anymore- until failure is not failure.

I thought of these words as I prepared to give my 10th speech. There is no failure but failure to try. I couldn’t fail in Toastmasters. Every time I perform a meeting role and every time I give a speech is a step forward. I learn from every experience. I get better just by trying.

How to overcome fear of failure

there is no failurePhoto credit alamosbasement

Join the club

Find a group, such as Toastmasters, of people with similar goals. The support, encouragement, and motivation of the group will help you face your fears.

Do what you’re afraid to do

The only way to get better, to grow, is to practice. Get out there and do it!

Keep at it

Keep trying, keep learning, keep growing. The more you do what you’re afraid to do, the easier it will be to do it.

Celebrate your accomplishments

You’re making great strides, even if you haven’t yet reached your goal. Stop and enjoy what you’ve accomplished!

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I love your comments! What are you afraid to do? How did you overcome fear of failure?

6 Comments

  1. Congratulations Chrysta! I’m a long-time fan of Toastmasters. I remember all too well those first couple of times in front of my group. They could not have been kinder or more supportive.

  2. Congratulations, Chrysta :)

    I have never had much of a difficulty with speeches, or even stage fright. It might be because I have always been part of stages – I used to be part of Plays and Dramas in middle school. I remember acting as Augustus Caesar for Julius Caesar, and a Judge in another play (I think it was Merchant of Venice, not sure).

    Or maybe it is because of blogging. I like believe it is. Blogging has changed me, taught me a lot of things. It improved me and helped me face my fears.

    Anyways, you are right. Only way we can overcome our fears is to face it (I have tried the approach of considering my fears as a friend – Using fear as a motivation. It worked wonderfully :D).

    By the way, Congratulations :)

    Hope you are having a great weekend!

  3. Hi Chrysta,

    Wow, doing things we’re afraid to do can be hard, but I applaud you for attending toastmasters and giving your 10th speech no less. You’re a pro now :-)

    I like the statement about fail fast, fail often until you’re not afraid to fail any more. That’s testimony to the idea that if you just keep at it you can succeed.

    Probably the biggest thing I’m afraid to do is public speaking, although I haven’t attended toastmasters I’m working at it slowly.

    Congratulations on your speaking accomplishments.

    Liz

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Liz! So many people are afraid of public speaking and I hope someday you do make it to Toastmasters- it’s such an inviting and safe environment to face your fears. :)

      Overcoming the fear of failure has helped me in many areas of my life- it’s much easier to me to make choices that fly in the face of my fears and I feel it’s given me the opportunity to do more than I thought I could do.

      I appreciate your comment- thanks again for stopping by! Have a wonderful weekend!

      Chrysta

  4. Hey Chrysta – congratulations! And the message in this post is absolutely spot on.

    It’s made me think about my own recent experience – I’ve been wanting to have a go at writing fiction for ages, and after playing around a bit in private, I decided to try some creative writing exercises on one or two websites, where you can post your ideas in response to a prompt. Having lived my life believing I was incapable of this kind of thing, I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve enjoyed the challenge, and also at the positive response I’ve received from other writers who’ve commented on my efforts.

    And as I write this comment, I’m realising I’ve only got to this point at all because last year I took the plunge and created my blog and started publishing posts, which was a terrifying prospect initially, but which has really helped boost my confidence in my ability as a writer.

    As you say, you need to accept the fear and dive in!

    Thanks for an inspiring share :)

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Susan! Congratulations on overcoming your fear and becoming a writer!

      There are so many things we tell ourselves we can’t do when in reality we can do more than we give ourselves credit for. I love hearing success stories so thanks again for telling yours.

      Have a fantastic weekend!

      Chrysta

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