Face your fear, sit up front

Nov. 28, 2017  |  Lynn Kletscher

Most times, people want to sit up front. Think about sporting events, concerts and theatrical productions -- there’s nothing like being close to the action. And for some, it’s worth paying top dollar for those premium seats.

Now think of educational programs. Although pricing is the same no matter where they sit, people prefer to sit toward the back of the room. Why is that?

Fear. Hardly anyone is afraid of catching a foul ball or snatching a flying guitar pick. Yet, many are afraid to sit up front in a classroom.

Picture it: You’re at a conference. You walk into a room packed with hundreds of people. There are a few open seats here and there, but they’re not easy to get to. You glance toward the front and see the first two rows are virtually empty. What do you do? Are you naturally inclined to dismiss the first row of empty chairs and awkwardly make your way toward the back of the room?

Now imagine what would happen if you chose to sit up front.

What’s the worst that could happen? You could get called on to answer a question, give an example or participate in a role play. You could answer a question and get it wrong. (The worst, right?)

Now imagine the best that could happen. You could get in the zone, stay focused and engage in the process. You could learn a new concept and improve your chances for remembering it later. (Isn’t that the point?)

Here’s the thing. The worst leads to the best by getting you to be an active learner. You listen, you speak, you interact. You feel emotion, even if it is fear.

When you sit outside your comfort zone, you:

  • Focus better. It’s much easier to focus on the content when distractions (people having side conversations, looking at their phones or shifting in their seats) are behind you.
  • Get the best view. A big head can be a visual barrier between you and the instructor or screen. When you sit in the front row, the only head you need to worry about is your own.
  • Enjoy more elbow room. Optimal learning requires basic needs be met first, including comfort. While others are banging knees in the back, you have the luxury of space up front.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” So, the next time you find yourself gravitating to the back, give the front row a try. You never know, you might like it.

P.S. If FDR were still alive, he might make an exception for zombies. Just saying.

Topics: Education, Personal development

Lynn Kletscher

Lynn Kletscher is the MNCPA Director of Education, working to secure innovative and informative continuing education programs for CPAs. When she’s not researching the latest NASBA CPE rules, she is at her hobby farm tending to her horses and chickens. She is a fair-weather motorcyclist and a year-round fan of The Walking Dead. Next time you attend an MNCPA event or seminar, ask her about her zombie escape plan. Lynn can be reached at 952-885-5513 or

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