February 21, 2014

In speaking, as in sports, the reward outweighs the risk



Photo: World Figure Skating
The Winter Olympics are full of risk-taking athletes. They jump, they spin, they twirl, they flip, they slide, they glide, and they push as hard as they can -- all at the risk of falling on their behinds and losing time, points and medals.

For a lot of the athletes, they know they might fall down, and even face serious injury, but that doesn't keep them from performing at the highest level.

For example, the announcers talked all week about  two-time World Champion figure skater Mao Asada, one of a handful of skaters who has landed a triple Axel in competition. Would she be able to accomplish this high-scoring feat during her short program?

Asada attempted but did not land her Axel in the ladies's short program. She was a favorite for the gold medal and the reigning silver medalist. She took the risk and didn't succeed, in fact, falling down to 16th place.

But the potential reward was worth it for her. She still performed her long program like a champion and -- guess what -- she landed the triple Axel and a plethora of other triples and combinations. Unfortunately, she was out of the running for a medal, finishing in sixth place. In the end, her score was a personal record.

Was she disappointed not to win a medal? Of course. Do you think she regrets taking the risk? Not for a minute. She said to a reporter, "With this performance, I could thank all the people who supported me all this time."

There are snowboarders and skiers who try extremely risky tricks, some of which they've only completed in practice and never in competition. But the potential reward outweighs the risk, which is why they do it. The chance of representing your country with a gold medal is a huge motivation, not to mention delivering personal best performances and justifying years of hard work.

How does the reward of speaking outweigh the risk for you? 

We all experience some risk when we get in front of an audience. We know there's a chance we might come across as less than stellar, that the performance we imagine in our heads might be a whole different thing in reality. We know we might forget our words, have a technology breakdown, or demonstrate our nervousness with shaking hands or quivering voice.

But are these risks really so huge when you think about the rewards?

As I mentioned in this post, some of the rewards of speaking include:
  • The opportunity to share your message with a captive audience
  • Learning about yourself as a person, and facing your personal challenges
  • Connecting with people and building relationships
  • Helping people move forward and take action
  • Expressing your ideas, changing minds and facilitating personal transformation
  • Not to mention building your visibility, credibility and reputation, which leads to promotions, clients, customers, more important leadership roles, and personal and professional growth.
You're not in danger when you speak. You're not going to get a concussion or tear your ACL. You're not going to be fired or shunned from society. The rewards far outweigh the risks. So what are you waiting for?

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