Would you willingly place yourself in a situation where you’re sure to feel embarrassed?

Of course not! Nobody would want that.

Abdul Kader
ILLUMINATION

--

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

Would you willingly place yourself in a situation where you’re sure to feel embarrassed?

Of course not! Nobody would want that.

However, there was once a popular cartoonist, blogger, and motivational speaker who did something courageous. He chose to stand in front of a crowd even though he had lost his ability to speak.

This man was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia: a neurologic disorder that can affect the voice and speech. He was perfectly fine when he was alone and could communicate and read. But he struggled when he had to talk to people.

Even though he couldn’t speak, he didn’t cancel an important event where he was supposed to speak in front of a large audience. He told the event organizers about his problem and asked to cancel, but they refused. They were willing to take the risk, and he agreed.

Imagine losing your ability to speak and still agreeing to speak in front of a big crowd who would listen, watch, and record the event. Most people would avoid this to avoid humiliation.

The speaker himself wanted to take the risk.

Imagine losing your ability to speak and still agreeing to speak in front of a large crowd. Who’d listen, observe or record the event. Anyone would escape being humiliated.

Public speaking can make anyone nervous, but here was someone who couldn’t speak yet was ready to face a large crowd. However, this man was an experienced public speaker who had given 100 talks before.

Most of the audience were his fans who knew him well and had high expectations every time he was on stage. But this time, he was a bit nervous. His heart pounded hard, and he thought he might mess up when he stepped on stage.

They announced his name, and he walked onto the stage amid loud applause. Anyone would get anxious seeing such an excited crowd.

Instead of getting more nervous, he absorbed the applause and turned it into positive energy. His heartbeat slowed down. He said, “My training was kicking in, and with it came my confidence. In my mind, I owned the audience, and they expected nothing less. They had come to surrender, in a way. All I had to do was show them I knew it. And to do that, I needed to be able to speak.”

Most people would rush and start speaking as soon as they appeared on stage. But this man, who had lost his ability to speak, smiled at the audience and said, “I was happy to be there — genuinely happy. I was born for this. The stage always feels like home.”

He took deep breaths, looked around, and waited for the applause to stop. He waited for the audience to settle down and adjusted his internal sense of timing to match the audience’s.

He explained, “When you stand in front of an audience, your sense of time gets distorted. That’s why inexperienced speakers talk too quickly.”

All he wanted to do was wait in silence to capture the audience’s curiosity. He started speaking and continued for about 45 minutes. With confidence and training, his ability to speak returned. He successfully delivered the talk but lost his ability to speak again once he left the stage.

You might wonder how this is possible, and many questions might be circling your mind. But you have to believe it; this is the true story of none other than Scot Adams, the popular cartoonist, author, speaker & owner of The Dilbert Blog.

The reason he took such a risk and put himself in a position to be embarrassed in front of a thousand people is linked to Scot Adams’ relationship with failure. He said, “Over the years, I’ve developed a unique relationship with failure. I invite it. I survive it. I appreciate it. And then I learn from it. Failure always brings something valuable with it, and I don’t let it go until I extract that value. My cartooning career, for example, is a direct result of failing to succeed in the corporate world.”

Another reason he succeeded in his talk that day was his willingness to take this risk. He wanted to find out if he could speak normally in front of an audience or if his speaking problem was limited to everyday conversations.

It wasn’t his voice that was the problem; it was something else. Scot was eager to discover what it was.

To find a solution to his voice issue, he looked for patterns in his speech that day. He wanted to understand why he could speak normally in some situations but not in others.

He delivered the talk successfully but struggled to speak once he was off the stage. When he transitioned from a memorized speech to a regular conversation, he couldn’t speak. It felt like his throat was blocked.

He realized the problem wasn’t with his voice but with his brain. So, he spent three years studying patterns and searching for a solution to his voice problems.

Scot Adams’ remarkable story illustrates the power of embracing failure and taking risks. His journey serves as an inspiring reminder that confronting our fears and persisting through adversity can lead to transformative personal and professional growth.

--

--

Abdul Kader
ILLUMINATION

Writer | Helping you fix your emotional problems & accelerate your personal growth.