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New Year’s Resolution: Get Your Butterflies To Fly In Formation

6 Jan 2021 2:34 PM | Kathy Bryan, WOM President

Recently, I cracked open a fortune cookie and pulled out a fortune that seemed to know its recipient:

It’s alright to have butterflies in your stomach.

Just get them to fly in formation.

I believe most of us often have butterflies, yet we believe success requires hiding those butterflies. But what if, instead, we embrace our butterflies and get them to become something beautiful.

It’s Okay To Be Nervous

According to the National Social Anxiety Center (ASAC), “the fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders or heights.” In fact, 73% of the U.S. population has glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, according to ASAC, because we fear “judgment or negative evaluation by others.”

The “brain freeze” seems to be the greatest fear when it comes to public speaking. Though, for me personally, I fear quivering lips that prevent me from speaking clearly -- something I’ve struggled with while on stage since I had to recite poetry at the front of the classroom in grade school. I suspect many of us have our unique and hidden fears that we squash down before we get on stage.

It’s Okay To Let Your Nervousness Show

According to ASAC, “focusing on and acting to conceal signs of social anxiety only exacerbates the anxiety.” Instead, “behavioral experiments” are recommended as a way to alleviate anxiety that can keep us from our highest levels of performance.

Behavior experiments let us test what happens when we don’t focus on or hide our nerves so we can find out:

  1. If our anxiety is even noticeable
  2. If the thing we fear even occurs
  3. If we can be successful regardless of what happens 

Butterflies In Formation Are Beautiful

When we realize that most people around us fear public speaking, we embrace our own fears as normal and we accept the possibility that our fears will show, we can learn to have our butterflies fly in formation.

Whether related to public speaking or any other action personally or professionally, authenticity is endearing. The people who show us their true selves and who take the time to connect with us and who offer us valuable insights are the people we want to listen to time and time again.

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