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7 Ways To Live A Fruitful And Successful Life

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7 Ways To Live A Fruitful And Successful Life

The success business is an emerging area of influence and entrepreneurship. Talk show host and comedian Steve Harvey has created his “Act Like a Success” brand, which includes seminars, coaching, and books. Richard St. John, an expert who has conducted research about success, may be best know to global audiences via his TED talk, “8 Secrets of Success,” which has been viewed almost 8 million times. Although success can be defined and taught in numerous ways, it is not only connected to money and fame.

Through taking deliberate actions, anyone can become a success.

Below are 7 simple steps to make every day of your life matter, and to live a more fruitful and successful life:

1. Reflect purposefully on what you currently do, and on your values and beliefs.

For a day, keep a small journal with you. As you watch TV or interact with others, take time to reflect about what you think or hear. Also, reflect on your perspectives and determine if you like your responses. To help you to identify your values, listen to others and imagine what you would do if you were in another person’s situation. If difficult situations occur at work, do you respond in a way that reflects your true values and beliefs? If not, what held you back? After reading your day’s reflection, determine what you want to change and what you don’t want to change.This list will be the beginning of creating a happier you.

2. Surround yourself with people who celebrate you and don’t just tolerate you.

Care about what other people think, and you will always be their prisoner. – Lao Tzu

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Abuse is not limited to physical blows. Life is too short to be unhappy and to be surrounded by negative people. Take inventory of the 10 closest relationships in your life. Classify them in one of three ways:

  1. People who give you energy
  2. People who neither take away or give you much energy
  3. People who take energy from you.

If you discover that you have too many people who drain you in your daily life, it’s time to remove many of them. This might not mean that you stop talking to them altogether, but deliberately reduce the amount of time that you allow them to pull energy from you.

On the other hand, if you find that you have few to no people in your life who are bringing positive thoughts and energy into your life, add new people to your personal and/or professional network. Your positive contacts should include people who care enough about you to tell you what you need to hear- not what you want to hear.

Evaluate your top 10 contacts for one week like this, and notice the positive changes that will occur in your life.

3. Bloom where you are planted.

This advice is some of the best that I have received. When I moved to Lafayette, Indiana, from Nashville, Tennessee, ten years ago, and realized that there were limited cultural resources available for black women, I was angry and disappointed. I had moved from a metropolitan city to a place where approximately 2.5% of the people in the county were black. In ten years, I have relied on cable television, social media, and satellite radio to stay connected to the resources that were important to me. Although we still don’t have a great soul food restaurant in town, I have learned to use Pinterest to find ways to expand my cooking and professional skills while staying connected to the things and people that I love.

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Whether you are in a situation that is uncomfortable or you are engaged in activities that don’t align with the expectations of where you should be or what you should be doing, identify positive aspects of your situation. Seek advocates and mentors who can serve as bridges between your current situation and your proposed situation.

Also, develop a gratitude and success journal so that when positive occurrences happen in your life, you can refer back to your enjoyable moments. You may archive pictures, letters, cards, e-mails and other artifacts that reflect celebratory times in your life.

4. Set reasonable short-term and long-term goals.

Many people think that success happens by chance.

I’m not one of those people.

People need to develop both personal and professional short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals may consist of plans for the next 1-6 months, while long-term goals may consist of plans for the next 5+ years. My professional short-term goals are to graduate three engineering doctoral students next spring and summer and to set up a project management plan for a $1.4 million grant that is to be awarded in the next few weeks. My professional long-term goals are to grow my educational business to multi-million dollar status and to become a Dean, Provost, and/or President of a university.

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To achieve your short-term and long-term goals, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my ultimate dream?
  • What would I be willing to do for free if money was not an issue?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What do I want my legacy to be?

Document these responses in an app, or an electronic/ paper journal. Translate your thoughts into actionable tasks so that you can track your progress.

5. Thank people for their support.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

A few years ago, when a top official at my university took time out of his schedule for me to interview him, I thanked him by writing a thank you note and by sending him a small box of homemade chocolates from a local candy shop. Three years later, he became the president of a major university. Last year, I asked him to serve as a reference for me for an amazing new position, and he didn’t hesitate to speak on my behalf. I have no doubt that his reference carried much weight in the decision process.

Nothing makes people feel better than gratitude. When you appreciate others, they want to help you. Good seeds produce good fruit. In a world when many people are selfish, want to be first, and want to acquire the best of everything for themselves, gratitude stands out in a big way. Establish your gratitude reputation by writing handwritten letters or sending electronic cards of appreciation to people who have supported you, given you a gift, or have influenced you in a positive way. Although your intention for being kind to someone should not be to get something from someone, the people who you thank will not forget that you took time out of your busy schedule to think of them and to appreciate their presence in your life.

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6. Resurrect your dead dreams.

As children, we are taught to dream and to dream big. At some point in our lives, however, the practicality of adulthood settles in, and we start being safe in most, if not all, areas of our lives. Success, however, sometimes requires us to become radical in our thinking and in our actions. Think back to that one thing that you wanted to achieve when your teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up. For me, it was to become the Governor of Alabama. I don’t know why, at the age of 7, I wanted to achieve that goal. As I’ve gotten older, however, I realize that I really enjoy people and politics. I want to make life better for others, and I want to create and implement policies that improve education. Last month, I seriously thought about what a political future might look like for me. Look out, Kanye West, I might see you at a presidential debate in 2020!

In the same way, take time to reflect deeply about your dreams. List them, note which dreams are still burning within you, and connect to people and resources that can help you to achieve the short-term and long-term goals connected to your dreams. Don’t forget to share your dreams with the people who give you energy.

7. End each day in peace.

Life can be stressful, but happiness is a choice. You must decide on purpose not to let others’ baggage become your baggage. Shut down e-mail and all technology at least one hour before bed. Engage in an activity that calms you and allows you to reflect on the positive occurrences of the day. This might be writing in your journal, enjoying a warm beverage, or meditating. No matter how bad your day may have been, know that the next day brings an opportunity to start over and to change the world.

In conclusion, you have the power to become a success regardless of what you look like, how much money you make, or who you do or do not know. Your success begins with deliberate choices to make positive changes in your life.

No one is stopping you but yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via images.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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