Earlier this year my wife, Nina, and I visited with an English family we met while traveling in Australia in 2007. But how did we come to be in Australia in the first place? That story is the reason for today’s column.

When I was younger I was very scared of speaking in front of a group.  The idea of doing so made me start sweating and sent my heart beating faster. I was okay in classrooms, but making a presentation to a group was something I thought I would never be able to do.

Early in the life of our company I was invited to join a group called Artistic License. This group consisted of artisans and craftspeople who were involved in the restoration of Victorian-style buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our company would be the only general contractor in the group, a tremendous honor. I wanted to decline the invitation because an incoming member had to make a presentation to the members of the group and other invitees about his work and his company. I was too scared of speaking in front of a group to be able to do that.

After wrestling with myself I decided I had to take the chance and make the presentation if I was ever going to be able to look at myself in a mirror again. I did the presentation, sweating bullets, and survived.

Over time, I became a fairly decent presenter and I could deliver a talk with little or no fear impeding me.

Around 2005, I spoke with Peter Shands, a renovator in Canberra, Australia, who had seen me give several presentations at the Remodeling Show several times. He asked if I would be interested in being one of four speakers to present at the first-ever conference for Australian renovators. “Yes!” was my answer.

That event took place in 2007. Nina and I wrapped three weeks of travel in Australia around the three days of the conference. On a bus trip from Uluru/Ayers Rock to Alice Springs we became friends with an English woman and her 12-year-old daughter. That’s the family we just visited this year.

The only reason we met those good English folks and then were able to connect with them on our recent trip was because I overcame my fear of speaking to groups. What is stopping you? What do you want to do but just can’t bring yourself to do it?

Surprise yourself by getting out of your own way. It can be remarkable to discover the resulting possibilities.