At 11 years old, Malala Yousafzai began to advocate for the rights of girls in Pakistan to receive an education. As the Taliban occupied her valley, she continued to raise her voice, even surviving a brutal assassination attempt. At 17 years old, she became the youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Now traveling the world, Yousafzai was recently in Denver, Colorado to share her message.
During her Denver interview, Malala was asked if she is afraid. Her response stunned the audience – she wishes she had more courage to face her fear of dogs and rollercoasters!
Over the last few weeks I have returned over and over again to this comment. Why is it possible to overcome fear of one thing and not another? I work with many people who are terrified of public speaking and are trying to overcome their fear. Malala’s comments highlight the importance of passion. When someone is strongly motivated to share a message, they are more willing and able to work through the nervousness.
In Susan Cain’s thought provoking book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,” an interview with Harvard professor Brian Little sheds additional light on this. Little has developed Free Trait Theory – the idea that we are born and raised with free traits such as introversion – but we can act out of character when we are motivated by “core personal projects.” In other words, when someone is passionate about a message, they can overcome an aversion to public speaking.
Want to borrow some of Malala’s courage? Reignite your passion for your topic. What drew you to it in the first place? Why is it critically important? How can you share your passion with your audience so that they will also be ignited?
For more ideas on overcoming butterflies, check out Caffeinated Learning: How to Design and Conduct Rich, Robust Professional Training.
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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