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6 Eye-Opening Messages You Needed To Know Yesterday

6 Eye-Opening Messages You Needed To Know Yesterday

Alexa Tanney made a great point in her recent article: “In life sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can reach your destiny.” Lanney is commenting on the difficulty of being a twenty-something in this day and age, where it seems like everyone is depressed and in debt. In my short time on this Earth, I’ve been able to stumble into 6 fundamental ideas that guide me in my own path, allowing me to live my dream and actually make a living doing it. Impossible, you say? Actually, I’m very proud to report that it is in fact very do-able – it’s just a matter of following these thought-provoking messages.

1. You Are An Idiot (And That’s Okay)

Aristotle once said, “I only know that I know nothing.” These wise words comprise one of the most important messages that anyone seeking to better themselves needs to understand. If you’re reading this, you’re probably fairly young, in your late teens or twenties. I’m in the same boat. One thing I’ve noticed in myself and my peers is the sense that we know everything. However, the fact of the matter is that a lot of us simply don’t have the life experience to really know what’s best at all times. Of course, we can make reasonable decisions, but we should always be willing to consult others to see what valuable information they might have to share. The sooner you realize that we all are far more stupid than any of us could possibly imagine, the sooner you’ll be able to move on with your life.

The fact of the matter is that we are all limited in our own very human ways – and this is totally fine! We just need to be willing to accept this if we want to move on and have meaningful lives. You can’t be right about everything, or even most things for that matter. Instead, you need to be willing to be humble, hedge your bets, and trust in others so that you can go on to fight another day and help build your future!

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2. Discipline Trumps Motivation

I know a lot of people who look at all the hard work I put in every day towards building my career as a musician, promoter, and writer, and ask: “How do you manage to get all that crazy stuff done? I can never get motivated to do anything!” Those people; of course, have not understood one of the fundamental truths of this world. Discipline is a far greater force than motivation. Do you think that I like writing a couple of reviews a day and spending time learning to produce viral content? Not really. I definitely enjoy my work, but some days I really don’t feel like doing it.

That being said, I make sure to do it anyway because I know that the minute I let myself slip like that is when I will keep making excuses and slip down the path of apathy. I’ll be the first to admit this discipline can be unhealthy at times. When I was 18, I got ridiculously drunk at a show and was vomiting for hours on end. Regardless, I had a show review up within 12 hours of the last band’s performance. I didn’t want to write the article while I was hungover and puking, but I did it anyway. Why? Because I had managed to get myself into the unbreakable habit of producing content like that on a daily basis. No matter what.

3. Living Your Dream Isn’t Always Fun

This kind of builds on something I pointed out in the previous entry, but I feel like it should be elaborated on. Yes, I live my dream. I spend every day in a decent sized apartment, in an extremely fashionable Brooklyn neighborhood, and almost every night I go out and hang with heavy metal bands and party. It’s basically all I’ve wanted to do since I was 14 years old and first saw Almost Famous. That being said, my life isn’t all cocaine and groupies. There are a lot of thankless hours, mean clients, and miscommunications that define my day-to-day life.

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However, I’ve taken one of the core messages from Bob Lugowe (head of Relapse Records) to heart: “Just be glad that you get to be here, man!” The fact of the matter is that if something is truly your dream you probably researched it and had a decent idea of what it would require beforehand. You know what your dream entails and you have to embrace ever aspect of it, even the hard parts. If you got to a point that you are to any degree “living your dream” this probably means that you’ve been able to accomplish some pretty great things. This just so happens to lead us nicely into our next point.

4. Be Grateful For What You Have

One thing I’ve found to be almost unanimously true is that people appreciate grateful people. If you can show an attitude of perpetual contentment with what you have, people will admire you and want to work with you. I think that in this world of struggle people really like it when they find someone who just takes life’s lemons and make lemonade. Living your dream isn’t easy and the path is almost always hard, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be happy to be where you are. Yes, you might be torn down repeatedly, but if you can show that you are grateful for everything, whole new worlds of opportunity can open up.

Part of this is because you tend to become whatever you put out. So, if you exude positive vibes and show yourself to be a person of merit, and demonstrate that you are someone who pushes themselves to new extremes with a smile on their face, you will eventually become that person. That’s one of those weird life hacks that make sites like this one so special. If you keep pushing for something, and doing it in a way that takes other people along with you and helps spread the beauty of whatever you are doing, then people are going to be much more likely to help you out, rather than if you just put your head down and work on your own.

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5. People Take Note Of Your Hard Work

Now, a lot of people might claim this particular point isn’t true; however, in my experience it almost always is. The people who claim it isn’t true are doing one of two things wrong. The first (and most likely) is that they aren’t doing their work with gratitude and the desire to help others. That makes people less likely to want to help them in turn, so of course they will end up hitting a glass wall. The other reason it might not work out is because they haven’t been working at it long enough. A concentrated burst of work over the course of a week is good, but creating a body of work over a few years is even better. In the end, longevity tends to be what gets people moving somewhere. For example, I ran my blog for four years and more than two thousand posts before I ever got hired for a “real job.” However, in some ways I am grateful for that because it led me to appreciate the value of hard work.

This is perhaps the hardest of these messages to put into practice because oftentimes it doesn’t pay off for a very long time. That being said, when it does pay off then you know that you are onto something special. You’ve got to keep going at it and keep proving to the right people that not only do you really want it, but you also want it more than anyone else. I know as well as anyone, you don’t need to go to college to get a good job. That said, you need to want it, and the only way that you can prove that to people is through tangible hard work.

6. Things Tend To Work Themselves Out

There is a popular meme running around the internet these days that says: “At 23, JK Rowling was broke, Tina Fey was working at the YMCA, Oprah just got fired as a news reporter, and Walt Disney was filing for bankruptcy.” The point being; of course, that even mega-stars faced some serious adversity and you will also be able to overcome what you are struggling with. Your parents probably had a similar struggle in their lives and ended up figuring it out too.

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This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to keep working and fighting. You need to have all of these awakenings for them to fulfill their potential. That being said, if you’re suffering from anxiety and the looming sense of your own mortality, realize that most people have these kinds of problems at some point in their lives and most people manage to overcome them. As Alexa Tanney said in her article, “It’s okay to not be okay.” A lot of people around you who seem to have their crap together don’t. So, smile and face a new day. I know it gets better!

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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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