By: Justin Jones-Fosu

When was the last time you were CRAZY NERVOUS?  To see the last time I was crazy nervous make sure you watch the video with this post (seriously watch the video and you might just laugh).

Welcome back!  While I get nervous before all of my presentations (which for me means that I care) the time in the video was wildly different.

My wife and I were on our Annual Honeymoon (yeah…it’s a thing) in Costa Rica this winter and I ended up on stage doing Michael Jackson at the hotel before all the guests for the evening entertainment (it’s a long story how I ended up there).  Before I came out on stage my heart was racing uncommonly.  It literally felt like it was going to beat out of my chest and I realized I was crazy nervous.  I did not expect to be that nervous because I sometimes will do Michael Jackson in my presentations (this is also a long story but I welcome your asking).  You may wonder what was different this time.

My clients (staff and students) bring me in to share about Passion, Purpose, Leadership, and Diversity and I will sometimes throw in MJ to prove a point or to artistically show what my research shows (and it’s actually really fun).  I was not speaking at this hotel.  All I did was MJ and I was scared to death to be judged on my moonwalk, sparkling glove, and my hat toss alone.  I did not have my speaking to lean on and it terrified me.  When I finished doing MJ (it wasn’t my best rendition) it felt so great to challenge myself and do something out of my comfort zone.  That evening I reflected on what happened and I realized that being CRAZY NERVOUS was really good for me and my achievement.

Here is how it can help you.  When you are crazy nervous it usually means you are doing something that you have never done before, doing something to a magnitude you have not done before, and/or challenging yourself in a way you haven’t challenged yourself before.  This is valuable because it can have a carry-over affect to your work and inspiring an innovative life.  This is also important because in our “strength-based” society people are doing less and less of what makes them uncomfortable, but what makes us uncomfortable is what fuels both a learning-based mindset and opportunities for us to grow in diversity and inclusion.  When you operate in a learning-based mindset it is not about performing well against others, but rather about continually learning even when you fail and failing is extremely important to our growth and development.  One thing I always say is that if you are not failing, you are not trying hard enough!  Here are some practical ways I challenge myself and maybe it will give you some ideas:

1. #Birthdaychallenge: Every birthday I do what I call the #birthdaychallenge where I do something that I have never done but have always wanted to do.  My first challenge was to run a marathon.  The first year I failed at it, and the second year I ran (well mostly ran with a little walking and breathing very heavy) my first marathon.  The next year I went skiing for the first time with some fraternity brothers in Vail, Colorado.  This year I plan on learning to sail, and I am not yet sure what I will do for next year.  What will you #birthdaychallenge be this year?

2. #6monthchallenge: In my everyday diversity research and presentations I share that diversity is not a hand holding exercise where we all agree, but rather when we disagree how do we still respect each other and see each other’s humanity.  One way I do this is by nearly every 6 months I challenge myself to go to something and/or engage in learning in something in which I disagree or do not know a lot about.  This has allowed me to see peoples humanity even in areas which I disagree

3. Random Experiences: I did not plan on doing MJ in Costa Rica in front of all the hotel guests, but an opportunity presented itself and I challenged myself to step up and try.  I was afraid that they wouldn’t like, that they would boo, that I would do a horrible job, but in the end that decision to dance impacted me greatly and made me believe I should challenge myself even in my professional work.

What will you do in the next month to be CRAZY NERVOUS?  Shoot me a video or email to let me know how it went at Justin@campuspeak.com and if you happen to do MJ, I challenge you to an MJ off…haha!


Justin has great leadership and diversity strategies embedded in his keynote.  Whether you are looking for leadership, diversity, or purpose driven inspiration check out Justin and his ability to intersect amazing energy and practical content.

For your staff and/or students to see Justin do MJ Check out one of Justin’s most requested Keynotes “WHY Matters Now: How Purpose and Passion Inspire Meaningful Success” and see why Justin was named as a “HOT ACT” in 2015 by Campus Activities Magazine.  Justin also inspires great vulnerability in his bravest Keynote “Embracing EVERYDAY Diversity: Moving from Head to HEART!” For more information about Justin’s programs, visit https://campuspeak.com/jones-fosu/

As an added bonus for making it to the end, this was my encore presentation that evening: