Are you afraid that you will fail?

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court judge, visited the University of Chicago Law School last month and told students that she has spent most of her life afraid of failure.

According to an article posted  on chicagotribune.com on January 31, Sotomayor said that her knees trembled and her stomach churned when she presided over her first case on the U.S. Court of Appeals, where she served for 11 years, and that she was frightened during her first year on the Supreme Court.

Because she has been afraid, she added, she has worked hard to be prepared. “People sometimes mistake exuberance, passion and intensity for self-confidence,” Sotomayor said.

Be prepared, exuberant, passionate and intense

What’s the lesson? You can succeed even when you are afraid.

If you are afraid, do your homework. For example, if you wait until you feel confident getting up in front of an audience and talking, you may never give a speech. You have to write out the speech, practice in front of a friend, pretend you’re confident and then give the speech. The next time that you stand in front of a group of people, you will be a little less afraid.

If you really believe in what you are saying—and if you talk with exuberance, passion and intensity, people will think that you are self-confident.

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