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What We Can All Learn From Michael Jordan

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What We Can All Learn From Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is known as the greatest basketball player of all time. And even those who don’t know much about him can tell that he’s more than just an athlete.

Many qualities and skills together with a powerful mindset are needed to become that good at something, to reach the top of a career and to stay consistent at it.

He is a role model, has inspired generations, and is the reason many people fall in love with basketball. He managed to unleash his full potential and is an example of success, action and ambition. There’s a lot he can teach us about life.

So here are 10 valuable lessons we can all learn from Michael Jordan:

1. He accepts failure

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something.”

Successful people know that defeats are the most valuable experience in life. It’s our mistakes that show us the right way eventually. And Michael Jordan decided to accept failure, learn from it and do his best next time early on in his career.

2. Always try again

“…But I can’t accept not trying.”

Yes, you will fail. But nothing will ever happen if you don’t get out there and try again.

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The famous basketball player is all about that. It’s his perspiration that made him who he is today.

Way too many people give up on something after they fail a few times, and that’s why they don’t reach the success that’s waiting for them.

3. Practice daily

“I set another goal…a reasonable, manageable goal that I could realistically achieve if I worked hard enough. I approached everything step by step.”

Getting good at something is not enough these days. Many people are good at many things. But if you want to make a difference and live your life to the fullest by doing your best, you’ll need to master a skill.

For him it was one of the greatest sports. And if he didn’t show up to practice every single day, even when no one expected him to, he wouldn’t be a winner.

You don’t just need to be consistent and to work hard. It’s the daily commitment that lets you be the best version of yourself and become the best at something.

Once you do, however, it becomes your legacy. And you feel accomplished and content no matter the results.

4. Take action

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

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Many people spend a great deal of time trying to think of the best idea, to plan it, to predict everything that could happen and prepare for it. Others dream more than they do.

But, truth is, nothing will ever happen if you don’t do something about it, and there’s no better time than today.

Action breeds action. And if you’re initiative and consistent in what you do, you’ll succeed.

5. Enjoy the game

“Enjoy every minute of life.”

Whatever you do, make sure you’re having fun. That’s what Michael Jordan was doing during each game.

Life is much easier this way, and you perform better. So go find something you enjoy, get good at it and create something meaningful out of your life.

6. Let go of expectations

“If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.”

Another great lesson from Michael Jordan is that expectations often get in the way of what we want to achieve in life. And if you let them, they prevent you from moving forward.

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But it’s all in your hands and others have nothing to do with it. So don’t listen to what they expect, don’t take into consideration how they see things, just stay focused on the game and do what feels right.

7. Be dedicated

“He didn’t miss games. He played hurt, with pain, when he was sick. He came out and performed at an intense level. I don’t think anybody ever went away disappointed after watching Michael.” – Phil Jackson

In order to receive what success has for you, you’ll have to give something in exchange. It’s often your time, energy and focus.

Dedicate enough of them, and you’ll be on top of your game.

8. Be humble

“There will be a player greater than me.”

Michael Jordan knows that even if the world thinks he is the best basketball player, someone else will eventually come along who is better.

And that’s how we should all act. Stop thinking that you are the best and no one can be better. Humility is a trait that is highly valued and respected.

9. Stay focused on your goals

“The game has its ups and downs, but you can never lose focus of your individual goals and you can’t let yourself be beat because of lack of effort.”

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There are many distractions in life. And it wasn’t any different for Michael Jordan. He had to deal with failures, other people’s opinion, his personal problems, team members, what the media said about him, fame, and many other things. But he never stopped being concentrated on his goals.

He kept his vision, stayed true to what he believed in, and never let anything from the outside world get to his mind or heart.

10. Leave fear behind

“Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion”

He realized that fear was an illusion earlier than others, and that gave him the freedom to try harder and dream bigger.

Fear of failure is a big obstacle on the way to success. Be we won’t go any further unless we let go of it. It’s important to realize that the only barriers are the ones we set for ourselves. We create such illusions that make us afraid to take action. And without action, there’s no progress.

So don’t be afraid to do what you love and fail as much as you can.

All these lessons, together with the unforgettable games Michael Jordan played, are his legacy. And we can do the same.

Everything in life is possible. We just need to have a definite desire and take action upon it every single day.

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Featured photo credit: Michael Jordon by Jason H. Smith (creative commons) 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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