My first memory of giving a speech was during my freshman year in High School. The assignment was to make a 5-minute presentation on something that interested us. We were judged by our content, delivery, and few other components. I was so terrified that my presentation lasted all of 1:37 and I think I only took 4 breaths. I have no recollection of the content, but do remember getting a failing grade for the assignment.

During my review, my instructor simply said I had failed. There was no other way to put it – I had let my fears conquer me. He then followed it with the good news (failure always comes with good news) that everything I had done wrong was simple to fix. Over the next several weeks, we worked on techniques for dealing with the butterflies in my stomach, rapid heart rate, and nearly every sign of nerves I mentioned.

Humans are genetically designed to recognize fear and respond to it. Whether it is fear of not being accepted or respected, fear of failure or success, fear of death, or spiders, or dentists, or public speaking… or anything else. People often describe their fears as a suffocating weight or paralyzing effect on their muscles – like a ‘deer in headlights’.

There are thousands of techniques that can help you master your fears, and I encourage you begin a quest that can fully empower you to live your dreams. One idea that has always fit in my mind is that our fears are an abrasive material that can indeed cause scars in our lives. But without them, we would be dull, lifeless and boring. We need to use the abrasives to sharpen our tools and polish our gems.

My greatest advances have come from my failures. I owe my life and my future to these incredible moments – when my fears temporarily conquer me. Today, I use my fears as a gauge to indicate that I am on the right path to pursue my dreams. If I don’t feel the fear; it is too easy and I will not have passion. If I feel too much, I will get weakened or suffer damages. But with a proper balance, I will shine brightly and can cut through the clutter that holds me back.

Since that day, over half my life ago; I have enjoyed the opportunity of presenting and performing to a variety of audiences across the country and look forward to even more in the future.