The Subtle Step Outside.

It wasn’t until I sat in the room with a couple-hundred other people, preparing myself to stand on stage in front of them, that I understood. I hadn’t known where the courage to say ‘yes’ to speaking came from, but it turns out it’s a very ordinary source…

I was invited to participate in a panel discussion for the Wyndham City Council’s Women in Business luncheon event earlier this year alongside two other women (one who was also in the transport industry, and one who was in the medical industry).

Naturally, I said yes.

I’d spoken in front of people before and often looked forward to opportunities to get excursions from the workshop and experience new environments. (Of course, I was also enticed by the promise of lunch that came with being invited to a luncheon event.)It wasn’t until I arrived at the event on the day, with bullet point responses memorized in my head for my five minutes on stage, that I began to feel nervous. There were more people in attendance that I had anticipated and I typically experience some nerves and excitement before anything that isn’t entirely in my comfort-zone – and this definitely wasn’t. Yet… I’d still said ‘yes’ quite easily.

It wasn’t until that lunch that I asked myself: how did I have the courage to say ‘yes’ to speaking in front of a large audience?

The question gnawed away at me through most of the lunch but, eventually, the answer dawned.

While speaking in front of the couple-hundred people at the event was outside of my comfort-zone, it was still a task I believed I was capable of completing well. Reflecting back over my opportunities since beginning my apprenticeship I realised that slowly, steadily, I had been sneaking outside of my comfort-zone a step at a time.

Each time I stepped out of that comfort-zone, what I knew I was capable of and what was in the achievable-but-intimidating grey-zone (after the comfort-zone) grew. That led me from presenting in front of small groups of new apprentices to speaking in front of well-educated business people with more life experience than me.

I surpassed even my own expectations at the event. I spoke of my experience in the automotive industry (and showcased that not all tradies are low academic achievers by mentioning my 95.55 ATAR) and emphasized the desirability of women in trade. The response was exhilarating, the room clapped for me numerous times and afterwards many people approached me to commend me on my personal story and my speaking skills.

So, next time you’re wondering how to find the courage to take a big leap of faith and try something new: remember all the little steps you’ve taken that make you capable of that new opportunity.

The subtle growth is there.

Ashley

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