It was my senior year in High School. I was presenting a book report in English class.

When I was embarrassed, I would blush and feel hot.

I was not embarrassed. Embarrassment would have been a relief.

My friends said I was as white as a sheet of paper. And I was cold.

This was panic.

I would take in a breath and try to utter a few trembling words, and then take in another breath. I was filling up with air, and not letting much out. I felt like my chest was going to explode.

I’ve blanked out the rest of the experience. Fortunately, I had good friends and was respected, and no one made fun of me.

Ask For Help

I skipped my next class and went directly to my counselor’s office. I told him that I had a problem. I was going to begin college in the Fall, but I didn’t have the confidence I thought I would need to participate in the classes.

He said there were two things I could do. I could join Toastmasters, but I was only seventeen, and you have to be eighteen to join. Or I could take the Dale Carnegie class on public speaking.

I had not heard of either of these organizations.

I was working for three hours after school each day at an engineering firm. As I waited for the elevator, I noticed that the Dale Carnegie office was listed on the directory. I’d never noticed that before.

The next day, I got there a little earlier and went up to that office. I explained my situation to the director. At the time, the course was $300.00, which was a lot of money for me. He told me that most of the people who take the course have a company paying for it. He said that he would let me take the class for $150.00 as long as I took it seriously and showed up each of the fourteen weeks.

The year was 1967. I took course on a weekday evening in downtown Louisville at the Brown Hotel.

Do The Work

I took a bus to and from every class, never missing one.

I was the youngest person in the class at seventeen. The next youngest was a high school teacher who was twenty-three. The oldest was Mr. Wayne, the owner of Wayne Supply Company. He had his executive team there with him.

I loved and benefited from every minute of that Dale Carnegie course. I still have the books and the graduation certificate.

It gave me the courage to go on to the University of Kentucky.

I took a basic Public Speaking 101 class my second year, but after that, I didn’t have many opportunities to stand and speak. The class discussions occurred as we were seated at our desks.

Later I discovered that those seated discussion experiences were not the same as standing and speaking.

Not even close.

I’ll elaborate on my next panic situation in the blog post next Sunday.

My Take-a-Ways
  1. Ask for help.
  2. Pay the price in time and money to learn new skills.
  3. Show up and do the work

What are your take-a-ways?