Embracing the Stage: A Lesson in Courage and Vulnerability

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky 

Meeting a Hero: The Opportunity of a Lifetime

“You know, they say you should never meet your hero. And I actually don’t believe that. I believe if you have an opportunity, absolutely you should.” These words set the stage for a story that’s both inspiring and humbling, a tale of meeting a hero and learning a valuable lesson about courage and vulnerability.

For the last seven years, Les Brown has been my greatest hero. The Michael Jordan of public speaking, the original gangster who’s been big and famous for over 20 years. Whenever I felt lost or overwhelmed, I would listen to his videos, constantly telling me, “It’s possible to have your dreams come true. It’s possible if you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you strive upwards, you can get what you want out of life.”

The Virtual Conference: A Chance to Ask a Question

About a year and a half ago, during the peak of the pandemic, an opportunity arose. A virtual conference with over 3,000 people attending, and Les Brown was on the panel. My mentor pulled some strings, and I was given the chance to ask him one question. Just one. The pressure was on, and my anxiety shot through the roof.

Here was a man I looked up to, Wayne Gretzky, Tony Robbins, the Steve Jobs for me. I had one chance, one opportunity, and I wasn’t going to miss it. I kept typing and rewording my question, changing it over and over, wanting to make it perfect.

Emotions Take Over

What happened next is something I’ll never forget. As the panelists turned to me, and I went live, my anxiety and tension flailed into pieces. I started crying like a little baby, overwhelmed with not wanting to disappoint my mentor, the panelists, or my role model, Les Brown.

I just started sobbing and telling him how much he meant to me…it was bad.

How much I needed his support in the past and what he did for me. It was painful and embarrassing, and I’m smiling and laughing as I’m telling you the story.

I bombed absolutely bombed like a little fanboy. I just went crazy, and I messed up the question. Over 3,000 people got to see me absolutely fail.”

The Aftermath…

My mentor, though laughing, reassured me, “It’s okay, you went up, and that’s what matters.” And honestly, I would do it again. My biggest regret would have been if I said no to that opportunity.

I know I embarrassed myself, but when I think about me being 90 years old, the regrets that I’ll have the most are the ones where I felt I wasn’t ready and I listened to the fear.

Embrace the Fear

“Don’t listen to your fears. Opportunities in life come left and right. Maybe it’s being afraid to take a dance class or go to a social, maybe it’s being afraid to ask someone out, maybe it’s being afraid to talk to your boss about a raise. Ultimately, we all get to be in charge of our destiny, and I think the most important part of it all is not letting fear stop us. Because it’s not the stumbles that count; it’s the moments I act on my fear and don’t hold back.”

This story serves as a powerful reminder that it’s not about perfection; it’s about the courage to step onto your stage, to take chances, and to embrace the fear. Your biggest regret will always be not that you weren’t prepared or messed up, but that you never took a chance. So go ahead, take that chance, and remember, it’s the moments you act on your fear that truly count.

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