Getting Better is Tougher than You Think

Wild 283

And so are you!

Atychiphobia is the abnormal, unwarranted, and persistent fear of failure. Persons afflicted with atychiphobia consider the possibility of failure so intense that they choose not to take the risk – of trying.

We hear “I can’t give a speech now, because I’m . . . “especially from new Toastmasters. Are they afraid that they haven’t as much “talent – as Ms. X,” the DTM? Lack the confidence of John, the Lay Preacher? Or are they just not mentally tough?

Success is linked to mental toughness in many areas of life – military service, job and career, music performance, sports  . . .

In Toastmasters, mental toughness can be seen as a determination to get better. We plan, speak and absorb suggestions from evaluations, then repeat. We try — even if we’re not feeling confident, even if we haven’t prepared as thoroughly as we’d like. We risk failure so we can grow.

Three tips cribbed from James Clear can help us become mentally tough as Toastmasters:

Focus on small behaviors – we can read about the role we’re assigned as soon as the draft agenda drops into our email queue, review the “Many Hats” pamphlet* and create a prepared, one-minute presentation about our meeting role. Small steps that build confidence.

(The major reason for meeting roles is giving multiple members an opportunity to speak. Reading the role description from our Competent Communications manual aloud doesn’t take advantage of that opportunity.)

Develop a routine that gets you going regardless of motivation at the time – For example, we can immediately make a note of what needs doing as soon as the agenda hit the inbox. That’s every time it arrives. (The Table Topics Master might note: “I need an introduction related to the theme of . . . , five questions related to it and a list of the club members; the Speakers and Toastmaster already have significant roles, so I won’t call on them until others have had their chances.)

When you slip up get back on track ASAP – When we “blow” a speech we should insist on scheduling our next speech while we’re still at the meeting. This reverses the emotional dump of “failing” by replacing it with a commitment to “drive on” and improve.

The tools are there – projects organized into programs/manuals and grouped into levels of achievement. But to become good at speaking and leading, tools aren’t enough. We have to apply mental toughness. We have to persist if we are to learn and improve.


*A Toastmaster Wears Many Hats, TMI item #1167D.

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