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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

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The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Other people’s thoughts and behaviors influence you. The people with whom you surround yourself affect your potential. This isn’t just speculation.

A person’s economic mobility is largely determined by the county they live in.[1] Children from low income communities are less likely to have high earning potential than their affluent peers. It’s hard to break out of your surroundings.

Groups of friends may subconsciously pick up one another’s behaviors and living style. They use similar phrases when they speak, and they may influence each other’s clothing choices.

The effect of peer groups has not gone unnoticed in the corporate world as Jim Rohn quote,

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

When we surround ourselves with strong, high-achievers with good character, we are more likely to become just like them. On the other hand, imagine how much of a negative influence low-achievers can have on you. If your five best friends have a poor outlook on life and are satisfied with sub-par performance, then there’s a good chance that some of that negativity will rub off on you.

Others’ Influence Is Easily Overlooked

In order to improve your life, associate with people with higher standards than you. If you have high expectations for yourself and you surround yourself with people who also have bold expectations, you’ll have a greater quality of life.

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Everything that you allow into your life and every action you take reflects who you are. Tony Robbins once said,

“Let your grind be a reflection of the standards that you have set for yourself.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have the fanciest things or work in the corner office right away, but it does mean that you do the best with whatever means you have. You don’t have to be top dog at the company to do excellent work. You don’t have to be wealthy to keep things organized. Going above and beyond will take you to the next level of success.

If you feel like you’re stagnating in your current situation, it might be time to make some changes. Change and growth can arise when you make conscious choices about your environment.

Beyond aspiring to improve your environment, keeping better company can go a long way toward helping you reach your goals. You can’t go through your life without people, and the types of people with whom you associate can impact your work.

For example, if your friends tend to waste lots of time on their phones and social media, you might be drawn into that cycle of distraction. If you’re health-conscious, but your peers spend all day munching on cookies and chips, you’ll have a hard time sticking to a nutritious diet.

On the other hand, when you’re surrounded by people who are focused when they’re working, you are more likely to be focused. In fact, it’s hard not to be focused because you want to be included and you don’t want to be responsible for breaking someone’s concentration. If you’ve never felt this type of motivation, step into a university library around finals. Everyone is united in their drive to succeed.

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Your Network Is Your Net Worth

It’s a quote from Tim Sanders, the former director of Yahoo!

When you surround yourself with people who hold high standard to you, you are surrounded by people who strive to do better. Their energy is contagious and will positively influence you.

Motivation and dedication are contagious.

Imagine working on a team in which 80% of team members are highly motivated and 20% of them slack off. The slackers are in the minority, and they are surrounded by the high achievers.

For the 20%, there are only two options for them. They can’t continue to put out mediocre work because the 80% will not accept it. They will either be influenced to do better work, or they will quit because they are unwilling to keep up. In the end, 100% of the remaining workers will be highly motivated.

If we switched the percentages of high achievers and unmotivated workers, there would be a different outcome. If 80% of workers have a low level of motivation and 20% are highly motivated, the team’s outputs will be low quality. The high achievers will either lower their own standards, or they will become fed up with their team members’ lackadaisical approach. In the end, all remaining team members will exhibit uninspired work performance.

You’ll do more than you thought you could do.

When you are surrounded by people with low standards, you may feel like you don’t have to put in extra work. You may perceive yourself as good enough because you aren’t comparing your work with people aiming for continuous improvement.

This means that even though you may be doing better than the average person in your peer group, you haven’t even scratched the surface of your full potential. Highly motivated people are constantly striving for improvement, and when you spend time with them, you recognize that you have plenty of growing to do too. You’ll make more breakthroughs than you thought possible because you are pushing yourself.

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For example, I studied Spanish when I was in college. Most people who were taking the Spanish didn’t care too much about it. When we had to review our translations in class, I was always stuck with a low-achiever. There seemed to be no upside to me putting in extra work since I wasn’t able to learn from my partner. I did well enough to get good grades, but I wasn’t progressing as much as I could have.

My professor was a great teacher, and he noticed that I didn’t seem to be getting much out of group work with my current partner. He paired me with the top student in the class. Suddenly, both of us started doing better work because we were 100% invested in our studies. Her high standards pushed me to work harder and think more deeply. My willingness to learn helped her sharpen her skills by discussing the work with me.

When you control your environment, you control your life.

A fulfilling life doesn’t just come about through a stroke of good luck. If that were true, then people who win the lottery would be guaranteed happiness. In fact, most people who hit the jackpot end up miserable because even though they acquired a windfall of cash, they could not control the people and circumstances around them.[2]

The habits that you commit to every day can have a greater positive impact on your life than getting a large sum of money. When you surround yourself with people who help you grow, you’ll make greater gains. Peers who enrich your life with their presence and actions can help you reach your goals.

One of my friends is a talented artist. He can take what other people would consider to be junk and turn it into fantastic sculptures. He came from a family that did not support his talent. He wanted for nothing in terms of food, clothing, and shelter, but he was completely miserable.

My friend almost gave up on his dream until he met other artists in college. He was surrounded by professors and students who believed in the transformative power of art. He began practicing his craft every day, and today he makes his living off his work.

For my friend, his family life was toxic. Even though he had all of his needs met, he didn’t flourish until he was surrounded by people who had high expectations of him.

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Find Friends Who Strive for Excellence

If you feel that you’re stuck, seek out people who have high expectations. Take notice of the coworker that is only satisfied with turning in the best work, and the friend who seems to have a clear direction in his or her life.

Connect with people that have rigorous standards for themselves and others. Talk to them to figure out how they reached their level of success. Perhaps they have a philosophy or mindset that you could adopt to improve yourself.

When you talk to these people, try to learn their perspectives about work, relationships, and life. Analyze why they think the way that they think. As your relationship develops, you can share your perspectives and seek feedback from them.

As you discuss life and work with them, think about what aspects of their approach you would like to incorporate into your life. If some mindset or action has propelled them to be successful, try to emulate that. Mimicking positive behaviors can change your attitude. This is just like forcing yourself to smile to induce happiness or striking a power pose to improve your confidence.

This is not the same as blindly copying whatever someone else does to be successful. This is about thoughtfully analyzing the successes of others and finding what works for you.

Every Relationship Should Push You to Be the Best Version of Yourself

It’s important to keep high standards in all aspects of your life. Look for coworkers, friends and even a romantic partner that bring out the best in you.

By removing the toxicity from your life and seeking people that will accept nothing less than excellence from you, you set yourself up to achieve your dreams.

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Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] The Equality of Opportunity Project: The Geography of Upward Mobility in America
[2] Time: Powerball: Here’s How Winning the Lottery Makes You Miserable

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is the Chief Editor and Content Strategist of Lifehack. She's also a communication expert who shares tips on motivation and relationships.

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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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