Have you ever thought about the best advice your parents gave you?
There’s probably a long list to pick from – good and bad. But now that I have my own children, much of their advice seems to be resurfacing for me. This includes the all too famous answer to the “Why?” question – “Because I said so.” Quickly becoming a favorite of my own.
I want to share how a single piece of advice has taught me multiple lessons through the years.
My dad would remind me of it regularly, often as he was relaying a story from his own work day…
“Your best asset is how well you communicate in front of people.”
He was obviously on to something as the majority of people fear public speaking more than spiders and clowns. I was reminded of this while reading a piece on overcoming your fear of public speaking from Ben Carlson at “ A Wealth of Common Sense ” recently.
As a 12 year old boy, my dad suggested I enter an oratorical competition through his local Optimist Club. Even though I had been in plays and sports in front of bigger crowds, this was the first moment I would have the attention of an audience alone. Needless to say I was petrified.
Our topic was “If Only.” And given my love for the Back to the Future Trilogy, I crafted a speech around the idea, “If Only I Could See Tomorrow.”
I discussed ideas around seeing your future self with all the potential successes and failures (similar to scenes from Back to the Future 2). I also broached ideas of what might happen with the hot button issues of the time – the hole in the Ozone , the rise of technological advances, and education improvements.
And I couldn’t leave out my fascination with the potential for flying cars.
To my surprise, the audience liked the speech.
So much so, I managed to win the local chapter’s competition and move on to the regional competition.
Being a young boy (with questionable hair choices but a decent judge of basketball skill – see pic above), I was thankful for the opportunity as I learned some valuable lessons through the experience:
Fear Doesn’t Always End in Failure
On his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show , Tim often describes his approach to life as a series of experiments. Instead of failures, he is testing hypotheses to see what works and what doesn’t.
This mindset minimizes much of the fear, allowing us to succeed at things we may never try when seeing failure as the downside.
When planning our financial lives, fear has a way of hijacking our rational thoughts. The fear of investment losses prevents us from investing because stocks are bound to fall . Then when losses do occur, fear drives us to sell and preserve what we have so we can invest when things look better .
When facing uncertainty, fear is often a byproduct. But acting on the fear is what does the damage. This is where having someone to talk through your decision making helps. Identifying what is preventing you from moving forward helps you begin to re-frame the way it has influenced you in the past.
Today, I still get butterflies each time I have an opportunity to speak . But now, I see those feelings as more excitement than nervousness . And just before I start, I hear my dad’s voice reminding me – “what’s the worst that can happen?”