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Valuable Advice From Highly Successful People For Young People

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Valuable Advice From Highly Successful People For Young People

One of the best ways for you to move forward and achieve your life’s goals, is by learning from the people who are already successful. By opening your heart to listen to their advice, you will probably reach your goals much faster. It is important to focus on the kind of attitude that you choose to display when you are at work turning your dreams into reality, rather than what you already know.

In the words of Leonardo da Vinci:

Learning never exhausts the mind.

These successful people have been through what you are currently going through and probably faced a lot of rejections before their companies grew. For them, now the challenges still exist, only on a whole different level. But they consistently have remained committed to their goals nonetheless. Because of this, there are a lot of life lessons you can learn through observing what they did to get to where they are now in life.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It is much wiser to follow their footsteps and do the things these people have done to build their successful careers. Here are some valuable pieces of advice from highly successful people you can learn from:

1. Mary Barra: Do something You Are Passionate About

The CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra’s advice is to do something we love. In her own words,

“Do something you love. If you are doing something you are passionate about, you are just naturally going to succeed, and a lot of other things will happen that you don’t need to worry”.

You don’t know how long you are going to need do the things you are currently doing until you reach your vision of success. That’s why it is quite common for you to hear a lot of these successful people telling you not to aim for the money. Instead, you should do something you are passionate about. It takes great determination to keep on going, especially when the odds are stacked against you. But if you are doing something that you love, as Mary Barra put it, you are naturally going to succeed.

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2. Maya Angelou: Forgive Yourself

Maya Angelous was an American author, poet and civil rights activitist. She said that it is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes–it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you should forgive yourself and say, “Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better“.

It is very easy to  blame yourself for the mistakes you have made before. But by realizing that those mistakes can be a very good platform for your growth, you can discover more about yourself and ultimately, your true potential. The co-author of “The Effortless Entrepreneur”, Daylle Deanna Schwartz said “people get into trouble because they try so hard to be perfect and then they beat themselves up when they’re not”.

Instead of trying so hard to pin the blame on yourself for those mistakes, look at it as part of your learning curve instead.

3. Richard Branson: A Setback is Never a Bad Thing

The Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson has provided us with a very good perspective on learning from our mistakes. He said,

I never see a setback as a bad experience. It is just a learning curve.

As a serial entrepreneur, Richard Branson has had his own fair share of setbacks. He nearly failed when Virgin was in its early years. But through a combination of luck and planning, both of them (Richard Branson and the company) made it through the difficult period and prospered. From his setbacks, he learned very quickly to use them as a platform to learn more about the business. One lesson that is valuable to learn is the ability to adapt quickly to changes, and another is the ability to be quick to accept that something is not going well and either change tack or close the business.

4. J.K. Rowling: Embrace Failure

Seven books and eight blockbuster films later, the Harry Potter brand is valued at over $15 billion. Over 400 million copies of the Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide and translated into 67 languages. It is a massive success.

But when J.K. Rowling had just started out almost fifteen years ago, it was a very difficult time for her and her daughter. She had faced a lot of rejections from literary agents until her work was finally accepted by Christopher Little, providing her with the springboard to turn her work into the success that we know today.

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And during Rowling’s speech that she gave at a Harvard Commencement, she said something that could really resonate well with us,

“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default“. 

5. Helena Foulkes: Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Helena Foulkes is the Executive Vice President of CVS Health Corporation. Her advice for those who strive to be successful in their lives is:

“You know what the finish line is that you really want to get to but, along the way, it’s not always pure joy. There are really hard moments. But if you keep your eye on the prize, it’s part of what drives you to get there”.

We often find examples of this attitude when we listen to stories of how highly successful people became successful.

Donald Trump is probably one of the best known entrepreneurs out there because of the reality show, “The Apprentice”. Forbes currently estimates his net worth to be at $4 billion.

What’s interesting is, he was in tons of debt in the late 1980s and by 1991, his increasing debt brought him to business bankruptcy. However, he did not take his eyes off the prize. He fought back by putting his focus back on his business and the late 1990s finally saw a resurgence in Donald Trump’s financial situation. He knew what he wanted and with his eyes on the prize, he was able to achieve the massive amount of financial success that we know him for today.

6. Indra Nooyi: Never Stop Learning

The Pepsi CEO, Indra Nooyi insists that we should never stop learning. She has said:

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“Wherever we are in our lives, whether we are entry-level employees fresh from college, or a CEO, we don’t know it all. Admitting this is not a sign of  weakness. The strongest leaders are those who are lifelong students.”

It is much easier for your learning process if you walk into all of the lessons that your life is giving you, by assuming you don’t know everything because by being a know-it-all, you are already pushing away the opportunities for you to learn something new, which could be very useful in your journey toward success.

In the words of Albert Einstein, “the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

Joel Gascoigne, the co-Founder and CEO of Buffer demonstrates this point perfectly. Before Joel launched Buffer, he decided to test whether people would use the product and in order to do that, he created a minimal two page website without building the product at all.

He then shared the website with his followers on Twitter. When a few people visited the website and put in their emails, Joel began sending them personalized emails, asking for their feedback about Buffer. After he had received enough feedback, he got to work and built the full product.

Stories like this exhibit the nature of highly successful people. They never stop learning. Imagine if all of the successful people in the history of mankind settled only for their first major breakthrough, would the world be as magical as it is today?

7. Eric Schmidt: Say Yes to Things

Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt advises young people to find a way to say yes to things.

“Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job. Yes is how you find your spouse, and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means you will do something new, meet someone new and make a difference in your life, and likely in others’ lives as well. Yes is a tiny word that can do big things. Say it often.”

It is very easy to say ‘yes’ to things, however it is not easy to follow up on this because it requires action, commitment and engagement from you.

When you say yes to an opportunity, you have to be prepared to do the all work that is required to keep your end of the bargain. However, with practice, as well as (again) action, commitment and engagement, this habit will be beneficial for your growth as you are able to learn more and build connections and trust with more people.

It is also a very good practice for character-building, to mold you into the person who is prepared to do what is necessary to turn your dreams into reality.

8. Mark Zuckerberg: Listen to Yourself

We must have faith in ourselves. That’s according to the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. His advice for young people, in his own words, is:

“The most important thing is to just have faith in yourself and trust yourself. When you’re young, you hear that you don’t have experience to do things, that there are people that have more experience than you. But I started Facebook when I was 19”

Almost of us who want to be successful will encounter people, including those who genuinely care about us like our parents and spouse, who will doubt what we do. This is simply because they cannot see clearly what we are currently seeing in our minds. In our minds, we have this great image of us being very successful doing what we are currently doing.

The founder of TOMS Shoes, Blake Mycoskie’s words resonate well with Mark Zuckerberg’s advice:

If you organize your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story and then turn your story into something bigger–something that matters”.

No matter how young you are, you are still never too young to achieve something significant in your life and be successful. There will always be people who will tell you that it is not possible for you and all the good ideas are already implemented elsewhere anyway. But remember, Zuckerberg did say, “I started Facebook when I was 19”.

Featured photo credit: Richard Branson/ NRKBETA via flickr.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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