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.
- Ask for help.
- Pay the price in time and money to learn new skills.
- Show up and do the work
What are your take-a-ways?