Saturday, November 10, 2007

I overcame a fear today!

One "phobia" I've had throughout all my years is... talking on the phone! At this point in my life, I've probably had thousands of phone conversations, so I should be over it by now, but yet it's something I still often try to avoid if I can. Really, it's based upon the fear that I'll have a hard time coming up with the right words or that there will be awkward "dead air," etc. This fear doesn't just involve phone conversations, but really just about any one-on-one conversation and many types of social settings. I dread the idea of feeling pressure to have to come up with the right words to say.

Well, I overcame this in a HUGE way today. Well, really it was no big deal. There were only a few million people involved! No big deal at all!

See, just a couple of days ago, I emailed Kim Komando with a question.

The Kim Komando show is a national radio program that discusses "all things digital." The program is one of the top ten most listened-to programs in the U.S., and it's the most listened-to weekend program. Kim says she reads all her email, but obviously can't reply to all of it. Well, I received a reply today from "Listener Relations" saying that Kim had forwarded my email to them so they could send an invitation to me to call the show today, as "Kim feels that the answer to your question can be beneficial to all our listeners."

Knowing my introverted self, I said, "Yeah, right... me calling a national program and actually trying to have a phone conversation in front of millions of people!" I don't think so!

However, the fact that I had received an "invitation" to call the show kept bugging me all morning. How could I pass up this opportunity to speak with "America's Digital Goddess"?!! But yet I couldn't overcome my fear. Well, about two thirds of the way into the three hour program this morning, I somehow got the courage to go ahead and give it a try. I called the number and got a busy signal. I tried again, at least 3 or 4 more times. I felt relieved that I couldn't get through. Well, a little later I tried again and this time it actually began ringing! My heart started pounding, and in my panic I almost hung up!

It rang for probably 45 seconds to a minute, and during that time I was able to talk myself into the fact that it's simply another person who I would be talking to, and that I could just "shut out" the fact that there were millions of people listening! On top of that, she is a radio pro who knows how to deal with mumbling and bumbling callers, so if I would have a hard time on the air, she would be able to make lemonade out of it. The call screener finally answered. I explained the email and the reply, and I explained my question. When I was done, all he said was, "hold on."

While you're on hold, you simply hear the radio program. I didn't know if he was setting me up in a queue of listeners who were waiting to talk, or if he'd give me a warning when it was close to my time on the air. I just drove (I was on the job today) and waited and listened. There was a block of commercials, and then Kim came back on and said something like, "before we get back into your calls...", and she went on to talk about something. All the more time for me to get anxious! But I was surprised at how calm I was. Again, I kept telling myself, "it's just a person, it's just a person." :)

She got done with what she was talking about, and then suddenly I hear, "Joel from Waterloo, Iowa..." And, folks, I did it! I actually talked live on the air with Kim Komando! And I want to tell you... While I mean no disrespect AT ALL to Kim, because I respect her computer advice and her success in radio and all that, the big thing for me today was not talking with her or getting my question answered by her. The big thing is that I did something today that "I" cannot do. As I shared on Daelon's blog the other day, it might surprise people, but I have often felt shy, timid, disabled, trapped... when it comes to being "outward" with who I am on the inside. Social settings have often been difficult for me, or uncomfortable at the very least. But I want to "get out." That is, I want what's on the inside of me to get out into the open. I don't want to fear people! There's just no need for it. I took a step today, by the grace of God alone, in the direction that I want to go!


  1. Joel,

    You did good, really good!

    Kim Komando

  2. Awesome!!! I was so excited to read this. I can't tell you how much I relate to your fear of talking on the phone. I went to dial the number to Bob George's radio show a few times and chickened out. I'm always afraid of what I'm going to say. I absolutely hate it. I hate even calling somewhere to make an appointment.

    And this past week, our teacher in our GED program had me come up to the chalk board and do a math problem. Oh man..I was a wreck lol. I made a few mistakes while I was up there and I'm sure my face had changed 10 shades of red. But long story short...I made it. I was exhausted, but I made it.

  3. I know that anyone can post anonymously and call themselves whatever name they want, but I do know that my question for Kim (which I'll share in another post, because I think it will be fun!) had to do with my website and blog and I trust that it's really her... so... thanks, Kim, for taking my call and for taking the time to stop by here! I'll be implementing your advice that you gave me on the air, and I'm sure your advice helped many others as well, as I'm sure it always does.

    Daelon... I tried to keep this post somewhat short so I ended up cutting out a lot of what I'd written. One thing that I had shared is that in the past I've actually picked up the phone to call national programs such as Komando and Sean Hannity, and I've almost always gotten a busy signal. However, the phone did ring for me one time each for those programs... and each time I panicked and chickened out. :) So... I eventually just stopped doing it, until yesterday.

    I would definitely not make a good telemarketer... :)

  4. I am happy to hear you overcame your fear. I have the same sort of fear when I am asked to lead the congregation in prayer at church. I think that I am less fearful of talking to someone on the phone, but not fearless. I do get nervous if it isn't someone that I know. I have called into People to People and asked Bob a question on a couple of occasions. I was nervous and probably sounded like it, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

  5. Gary,

    My dad is the pastor of a small country church, where the people all seem to sit at the back. Earlier this year when we were visiting, my dad asked if I would do the scripture reading. In such a small setting, I can't believe how nervous I became! It made no sense to me, but I was shaking and I think you could hear it in my voice. They say public speaking is one of the greatest (or the greatest) fear of people.

    A few years ago when I was in radio, I was asked to read the names of the sponsors of a concert that we held. I knew I would be nervous, but I thought I'd be able to handle it because it was simply reading a list of sponsors. But you get up on stage with all the lights and the 4,000 people out there, and you can't help but get nervous!

    Anyway, people who do stuff like this often, say that they get used to it and it becomes old hat. I really dig the idea of getting up in front of people and preaching or teaching, so I hope this is something I can overcome.

    And talking on the phone - how hard can that be?!??! But yet it remains one of my biggest phobias... for now.