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To Overcome Adversity

May 21, 2017

People tell me I am a great public speaker, but I certainly didn’t start out that way.

When I was in grade 10 I took a class in theatre arts. As part of that class, we all had to do a presentation in front of a group of people, indeed, the whole school.

I was paired with a girl and we were to sit on respective stools doing a comedy routine where we spoke directly to the audience. She would talk and then I would talk. I was the straight man to her comedic comments.

After much rehearsal we were on stage looking out onto the student body.

We sat on the little part of the stage directly in front of the audience; the curtain closed behind us; the teacher behind the curtain ready to coach.

She began and was great.

I froze.

The teacher coached me from behind the curtain.

I was still frozen; cold, clammy, scared.

Slowly I began to recite my lines as if reading for the very first time, the teacher feeding me line after line.

Somehow that 5 minute routine seeming like an eternity ended. People actually applauded. I survived.

People think that because I am good at something now that it must have come easily. I have been called “a natural”.

It isn’t true. I had to learn how to speak in front of others.

I had to overcome fear and anxiety that was compounded by a frightful first experience.

The secret to succeeding though is to confront one’s own weaknesses, learn skills and then practice.

Avoidance will not help you achieve anything, be it a relationship, a sport, a talent or a challenging situation. Only by confronting the issues and learning the skills necessary to overcome can you overcome.

When I counsel people I typically offer them things to learn, skills to develop. I advise that the only thing that matters after we meet is that they practice.

Overcoming adversity has less to do with hope or faith and everything to do with practicing new skills, be they how you think or do differently. Practice is key.

You can have all the faith in the world, but in the absence of doing something differently yourself, you will always be at the mercy of the other or your fear.

Need a coach, get a coach.

Mr. Reynolds stood behind that curtain, but I was standing on his shoulders to succeed. He got me through my adversity and had me practice more.

Now I love to present and stand in front of groups of people. I can achieve my goals and so too can you.

Confront your fear, learn skills, practice.

Get better, do better. Be great.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue. I am available in person and by Skype.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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