You may not think so...but I can see you naked!
|Many years ago, back when Moses was a corporal, I was selected to attend a prestigious school appropriately called, Drill Sergeant’s Course.|
I was a young whipper-snapper, full of eagerness and a zest for adventure, but I was also a little bit shy. My shyness was for public speaking more than anything else.
Each time I stood in front of a large or even small group of people, my mind went blank, my nerves began to frazzle, and my heart went thumpety-thump. I could stand in front of a bunch of green troops and give physical exercise or thoroughly chew out the latest batch of privates, but for some reason, I just couldn’t stand at a lectern and give a speech.
My battalion sergeant major decided to send me to school to learn how not to be shy. I was a sergeant by then and wasn’t quite accustomed to being chewed out like a private, after all, I had already been through that phase and now it was my turn to do the chewing.
It didn’t work out that way. From day one they treated us like maggots, called us maggots, even fed us maggots---I think. Of course I finally passed the course, not with flying colors or anything, but I passed---after all, I had already been through the worst the Army could throw at me up to that time, Airborne, Ranger, Jungle-Desert-Arctic- Warfare, Jumpmaster, Pathfinder - just to mention a few.
The last phase of the course was standing in front of a group of people and delivering a well-written and articulate speech. They didn’t want the public to think that all drill sergeants did was drag recruits through Hades. We often had to present our diplomatic side.
There it was again, public speaking. My instructor said to think positive, be positive. Sure, I told myself, I think I’ll positively make a fool of myself.
During practice, thinking positive didn’t help. As soon as I saw that sea of faces looking back at me, I froze like a popsicle and my mind turned to dog meat.
The fateful graduation day was nearing and all I had to do to pass the terribly difficult course was to stand up and deliver a little speech. A friend of mine had no trouble at all giving speeches. He’d stand and deliver like a member of the Harvard Debating Team and walk away with a smile amid loud applause.
I asked him how he did it. "It’s simple," he smiled, "when I look out into the audience I think of everyone as being naked. When I have mentally achieved that picture, it’s easy to talk to a group of naked people."
Well. I tried it. When my turn came to mount the stage I was, as usual, full of butterflies and my nerves were screaming back at me. As soon as I looked at the large audience, I thought, "I can see you naked."
You know what? It worked! To my surprise, after seeing a room full of naked people, my nerves calmed down, the butterflies disappeared, my heart rate dropped, and I delivered a great speech and passed the course. Today, if you see me looking hard at you, you may wonder why.
I didn't realize until later that - I had said it out loud!
P.S. I retired as an Instructor in ROTC and a Master Instructor in the 7th Army NCO Academy, two of the hardest teaching positions in the Army.