Monthly Archives: August 2014

Find Your Voice

8 25 14 microphoneI was a quiet child. Remember how they used to say, “be seen and not heard?” That was pretty much me! Although I do recall getting in trouble in grammar school for talking in class! What was I thinking? However, I don’t think students get in trouble for talking in class anymore, they are texting each other!

Which leads to a question, are children learning how to communicate in the true sense of the word? Are they learning how to speak and listen and get a message across, face to face? What does the future hold for the communication skills of this generation? That could be another blog, but today I address the adults.

How are YOUR communication skills?

It is commonly said that the fear of public speaking is the number one fear in the world. You don’t have to have the goal of being a motivational, platform speaker, but in today’s world, you should have the confidence to answer your boss coherently at staff meetings or make a toast at your sister’s wedding.

I have a theory that this fear stems from a source that is unique for each person. There is a reason for that fear, and it takes some introspection to get to the root of that fear. It usually goes back to childhood. I believe that in general we feel that the audience staring at us is somehow better than us. We deny our own self-worth.

Once I figured out where my fear came from, I experienced a breakthrough. I was afraid of speaking in front of a group because in grammar school the other students teased me. Today they call it “bullying.” Why did they tease me? Essentially because I was “the smart kid,” the “teacher’s pet,” or now what they might call “nerd” or “geek.”

OK, so now I’m thinking: if I am the smart one, then why should I care what they think about me? Light bulb moment!

But just like a garden, it takes some watering and nurturing of this confidence in order for it to grow. I found that supportive and nurturing environment with an organization called  Toastmasters International.

There are Toastmasters chapters, or clubs as we call them, in 126 countries around the world. This past weekend our World Convention culminated in a speech competition for the World Championship of Public Speaking. These are grand and glorious conventions. The speakers at Finals level are phenomenal! But it all starts at club level, a “speech laboratory” where one can practice, get feedback and grow as much as you want to. Your development is up to you.

Are you lacking self-confidence? Do you wish to be a better speaker and leader? My manager wrote on my performance appraisal 25 years ago that I had to join Toastmasters. It was one of the best things I’ve done in my life. Now, I am coaching and mentoring speakers who are aiming for that World Championship. One of them said they’d like to see me on that stage. Hmm, why not?

Don’t wait for your boss to make that move to push you towards personal development. Take some steps to find your voice. Determine the cause of your fears. Find a supportive environment to vanquish those fears.

Find your voice, because it’s those who can use their voice who change the world.

Truth Will Out

8 18 14 integrityI was thinking about integrity the other day. I remembered how I had written long ago in an online dating profile that I was looking for a man with integrity. (That still holds true, by the way!) Integrity and honesty are traits that I value highly, and I’m sure that the majority of people feel the same way.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines integrity as:
the firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, incorruptibility, and the quality of being honest and fair.

Society puts special trust in its leaders, especially leaders in certain capacities. We want to trust the law enforcement and judicial system to do the right thing. We want to believe that those in whom we entrust our finances for management or investment will do so responsibly. We want to trust the integrity of those who take care of our children.

Sadly, the people we put our trust in sometimes fail us. It’s most shocking when it is least expected. You hear the reports, “Oh, my neighbor was always so nice, I never would have expected him capable of this crime!”

You never expect it to be someone you know; it’s always someone else. One time I had the evening local TV news on in the background as I prepared dinner and they were giving a report about a child molester. Sigh. Another one. Then they mentioned the suspect’s name and I ran into the living room. It was someone I had worked with! Fortunately, I did not work closely with him, but he was in my department. I was shocked!

The worst shock is when it is a friend you know and love that commits a criminal act. A person with a wonderful reputation who is revealed as something other than wonderful. That hurts the most. You lose a friend. It could make you think, “How can I ever trust anyone again? Will I be suspicious of all my friends now?” It’s a hard thing.

I still believe in people, in the beauty that is in the human race. But I am a little wiser. One thing that we cannot compromise on in life is integrity. Without our integrity, we are nothing. If we cannot look ourselves in the mirror in the morning with a clear conscience, we have some work to do.

As Buddha said, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.”

Or to take from Shakespeare, “Truth will out.”

Supermoon and Moonshine

SUPERMOONI hope you all got a chance to enjoy the supermoon last night. I was at my friend Suzy’s birthday party, sitting on the eastward facing deck watching the moonrise, surrounded by good company, enjoying scintillating conversation. The candles were glowing, the frogs croaking and it was a night for life lessons and stories told by new friends.

Suzy’s brother, Larry told us a story of an adventure he had during the time he lived in North Carolina. The locals warned him not to travel north and into the “wild country.” The people up there, they said, were likely to kill strangers!

Being skeptical of this harsh assessment, and being relatively fearless, armed with his faith in God, Larry drove off one day in search of adventure and the truth.

Driving through the woods he came upon an old house that looked like one of those haunted houses you see in a scary movie, but he decided to stop. An old woman sat in a rocking chair on the porch, her shotgun and bottle of moonshine at her side. Upon his approach, she stood up, picked up the gun, spat her tobacco juice and said in a deep, menacing, woodsy accent, “What der ya want?”

Facing down the shotgun, Larry cheerfully replied in one long breath, “Well, I’ve been told that the people up here are mean and nasty and more than likely to kill a stranger, but I don’t believe that. I believe that the folk here are really nice people if you get to know them, so I’m looking to meet the nice people who I believe you are one of.”

The old woman stared at him a moment, spat again, lowered the shotgun and gesturing to the other chair said, “Well, come on up!”

They sat on the porch together for a while chatting about simple things, until she asked, “Ya want sumptin’ to eat?” He was not going to refuse her hospitality even though he was certain that what was on the menu was most likely not vegetarian!

Just then, a rickety old pickup truck drove up the road and pulled over to the house. Two scruffy looking men jumped out with their shotguns. They glared with hostility at Larry and shouted, “What are ya doing?”

Immediately Grandma jumped to her feet with her gun in response and yelled back, “Shut up!” She spat, “This here’s my FRIEND and we were just fixin’ to eat. Now git up here if you want to eat!”

Their faces immediately softened and they said, “Well, alright then.”

It probably was possum for dinner.

What lessons can we learn here?

One lesson is: our perception creates our reality. If you meet someone and decide to focus on their negative qualities, then you will begin to notice more and more negative qualities. If, however, you meet someone and choose to focus on the positive, they will not seem as fearsome or troublesome.

We always get to choose how we see a person, place or a situation. Our perception determines our experience. Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Another lesson: perfect love casts out fear. With love in his heart, Larry ventured into the unknown and emerged victorious.

What are you looking at that you perceive as negative?

This week change the way you look at situations or people. Look at them with more love. Put a little love in your heart. And the world will be a better place.

Listen here:  Put a little love in your heart.

Do I “Have” To?

8 4 14 i-get-to-image-280x186“Awww, Mom, do I have to?”
Mothers hear children whine about picking up their toys.
Adults moan on Sundays, “I have to sit in traffic driving to work tomorrow.”
We all complain, “I have to clean the house.”

Do you “have to” or do you “get to?”

Some children own only one toy.
(I found a very poignant photo gallery of children with their toys or lack of toys.)
Some adults take a bus to their jobs, and many adults are unemployed.
Some people are homeless and live on the streets.

Wouldn’t it be better to say: I get the toys I want!
(and yes, adults have their “big toys” too!)
I get to drive my car! (and I can afford to put gas in it!) I get to go to work and collect a paycheck!
I get to clean the house that keeps the rain off my head and that keeps me cool and out of the summer heat.

It’s all a matter of perspective!

One of the most powerful ways to change the “vibration” of your day is with an attitude of thankfulness. Wake up in the morning and think about all that is going right in your universe. That you had a bed to sleep in, a shower to wash in, a computer or smart phone to read your email and this blog on!

Rejoice that you get to take another breath, live another day and make it a grand adventure. Make it your intention today to be thankful that you get to do all that you do. And while you are at it, you get the opportunity to give someone a smile and brighten their day.

This week we get to have another shot at our dreams!