How Being Paralyzed In Front of An Army General Taught Me How To Be Prepared

Back in the 80’s, I was in Germany working on a consulting engagement with the US Army.  I was in charge of designing the manpower sub-system of a resource management system for all of Europe.  

I was proud of my subsystem and honored to be able to present it to the officers in command.  I knew what I was going to say.  I knew my subsystem.  After all, I had designed it.

I wasn’t even nervous.  But for some reason, when I got up to speak, I took one look at the generals sitting in front of me and froze.  The only thing I could move was  my eyes. 

I looked at my my manager across the room, wide-eyed, trying not to panic. Thankfully, he got the message and started talking.  Within a few words I got my wits back and took over from him.  I was perfectly fine after that. 

What I learned was to make sure I write down the first paragraph of any talk I am giving so I don’t have to rely on my memory.   By having those first words in my hand, I don’t have to worry if I freeze again.

It works.  I never go to a speech or workshop or call that I am leading without having my notes.  It has removed the fear of having my brain temporarily stop working.  It has dramatically lessened my stress and anxiety about speaking.

So what is something where things didn’t go as planned before in your life, or some mistake that happens repeatedly? 

What’s an action that you can take that would make sure even if it does happen, you are ready for it and have planned for it?   

I don’t know what it would be. Cooking, speaking, calling someone on the phone. Whatever it is. If you’re prepared, you won’t have to be afraid, and can keep going without missing a beat.  

I’d love to hear from you.  Let me know what actions you took and how they made a difference for you. 

And of course… If you want more educational and fun content…

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