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10 Things I Learned From The Amazing Patrick Stewart

10 Things I Learned From The Amazing Patrick Stewart

Let’s face it, if you don’t like Patrick Stewart, you are vehemently anti-Star Trek, or you think we’re talking about Patrick Kaleta. Unlike the overtly aggressive NHL player, Sir Patrick Stewart has been winning hearts since premiering on stage in 1966. Despite a sprawling history with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Patrick Stewart’s best known roles include Star Trek: The Next Generation and the X-men films (as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and Charles Xavier respectively). Determined to be among the world’s best humans, Patrick Stewart’s accomplishments span far beyond the world of acting. An avid humanitarian and activist, Sir Patrick works tirelessly for charity groups like Amnesty International, Refuge and Combat Stress, plus aids scholarships and UN organizations. Such a well rounded, selfless person certainly has something to teach us mere mortals, including these ten impressive life lessons.

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Despite impressive accomplishments, high salaries, and  fans around the world, Patrick Stewart seems to never let it get to his head. The first to laugh at himself, Patrick isn’t afraid of his perceived shortcomings: “I am not the archetypal leading man. This is mainly for one reason: as you may have noticed, I have no hair.” 

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    Where most stars might want to nurture the idea that their wise roles are true to life, Patrick instead states: “Having played many roles of scientific intellect I do have an empathy for that world. It’s been hard on me because flying the Enterprise for seven years in Star Trek and sitting in Cerebro in X-men has led people to believe that I know what I’m talking about. But I’m still trying to work out how to operate the air conditioning unit on my car.”

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      Embrace New Things

      Where many older celebrities avoid social media, and sometimes the internet all together, Patrick Stewart is quick to embrace new technologies. Patrick Stewart has become an internet darling in part because of his antics on Twitter. Constantly sharing silly poses and selfies with friends, Sir Patrick Stewart has amassed well over a million followers on Twitter. Not bad for an English gentleman born in 1940. 

      “[Twitter] has really taken us [Stewart and his wife, Sunny Ozell] by surprise to what extent people have enjoyed it. I get a great deal of satisfaction from using it for societal issues and concerns that I am involved with, but there’s also been this element of playfulness, which has opened up a new avenue of communication, which I am enjoying very much indeed.”

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        Stay Humble

        Similar to his humorous take on himself, Patrick is quick to downplay his accomplishments. Where other stars might be tempted to blame their success on pure talent, Patrick Stewart keeps his cool. “I wasn’t campaigning for a role in a Hollywood television series,” he shares, “it was a fluke. So you’ve got to have a measure of good luck, you really have, being in the right place at the right time.”

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          Even when the topic is his role in sprawling franchises, Patrick sidesteps the attention: “The studio have always claimed that the ship is the star of [Star Trek], especially when they’re renegotiating contracts.” Patrick is also quick to joke about his acting skills: “I don’t do impersonations. I can do a wounded elephant! I can do a really good cow! And because of the amount of time I spent in North Yorkshire, I do a variety of sheep. All of which I will be happy to roll out for you!”. 

          Patrick Stewart is happy to discuss his talent in a modest way: “[ X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner] showed me the first comic book and there was this bald guy in a wheelchair. I could see why she might have been interested in me.”

          Seek New Experiences

          Sir Patrick Stewart extends to his love of new things to life decisions as well, and is willing to taking risks. Many entertainers from outside the US have negative views of Hollywood’s hyper perfect culture, but Patrick Stewart didn’t let prejudice play a part in his life, saying: “I think I came back from America a funnier and nicer person than I went.”

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            Patrick also encourages an open, excited attitude for others: “If someone says ‘Give me one word of advice,’ I say ‘be fearless.’ And knowing without any shadow of a doubt that what they have to give—who they are—is totally unique and not shared by anybody else. And to believe in that uniqueness. It took me decades before I developed courage as an actor.”

            Always Keep Learning

            One would think that an actor as accomplished as Sir Patrick Stewart has nothing to fear. Despite his impressive acting resume, Patrick continues to push himself in his craft.

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            “I really, really don’t want to hit one of those walls and I really don’t want to finish last. This makes me more nervous than anything I’ve ever done.” Inspiring words when you consider how hard Patrick has studied acting, in theater as well as film.

            Use Your Adversity

            Patrick Stewart is pretty open about his background, including his difficult childhood. While growing up, Patrick Stewart witnessed constant domestic abuse. At the hands of his father, Patrick’s mother was frequently beaten and battered. Once saying “I never had teenage years. I guess because I was seen to be more adult than anybody around me”, his childhood was filled with heartache and difficulty. 

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              “I was brought up in a very poor and very violent household. I spent much of my childhood being afraid”, he also shared. Despite the troubles, and despite overcoming severely difficult circumstances to achieve stardom, Patrick doesn’t let his past control him. Quite the opposite, Patrick works constantly with Refuge, a UK organization focused on providing safety for victims of domestic abuse. He’s also quick to speak up for others, and offer support. 

              Work For A Cause

              Magnifying his involvement with charitable organizations, Patrick actively encourages each of us to also speak up for those who can’t. “It is what you do from now on that will either move our civilization forward a few tiny steps, or else… begin to march us steadily backward”, he has said.

              Even when the topic is Star Trek-esque space travel, Patrick jumps to encourage social growth: “I would like to see us get this place right first before we have the arrogance to put significantly flawed civilizations out onto other planets, even though they may be utterly uninhabited.”

              Preferring to use his celebrity for those who need a voice, Patrick once shared “[I’ve] been given a voice that I didn’t know was available to me, and it was to speak seriously and with a proper level of involvement on issues of inequality and unfairness.” 

              Never content to sit idly by, Patrick Stewart is a true champion of social causes. “I’ve always believed that it is not possible to be in the world and not be political.”

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                Nurture Friendships

                Patrick Stewart is also well known for his famous friendships. In an industry where back biting and harmful feuds pop up daily, it’s completely refreshing to see a celebrity treat people with respect. Patrick has been friends with Ian McKellen since they met in the 60’s, performing with The Royal Shakespeare Company. Additionally, Patrick and Helen Mirren worked together on the 1981 Excalibur film, and remain friends to this day.

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                    “I’ve met actors where you think, if only you could just clean up your act and get it together, people would want to work with you. Some people are so difficult, it’s just not worth working with them.”

                    Consider Others Perspectives

                    Patrick’s difficult childhood would be enough to make anyone hate their father. Confounding human nature once again, Patrick sees his father’s flawed life with empathy. When Patrick participated in a recent documentary program for the BBC, he learned that his father suffered severe PTSD from WWII. At the time, even more misunderstood than it is now, PTSD had absolutely no treatment in the 40’s and 50’s. After learning of his fathers struggles, Patrick immediately began working with an organization in the UK for veterans, called Combat Stress. Again, quick to understand and slow to judge, Patrick Stewart is helping to eliminate violence and health problems on all fronts.

                    “Now I can do something for women and their children who [deal with domestic abuse]. One of the most gratifying things in my life is that, I would say daily, someone stops me in the street or at the stage door and will mention the work that I’ve done there.”

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                    Never Stop Laughing

                    If his incredible accomplishments, humble attitude and sprawling list of awards aren’t enough to make you love Sir Patrick Stewart, hopefully his humor does. In his mid 70’s, Patrick shows no sign of slowing down. Starring in a theatre production with Sir Ian Mckellan in 2013, Patrick continues to inspire us and make us laugh.

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                      Proof that there’s no reason to stop spreading joy, Patrick Stewarts silly pictures and quick wit will undoubtedly keep us smiling (and learning) for years to come.

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                        And finally, great respect on how Sir Patrick Stewart took ALS Ice Bucket Challenge…

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vpbm7ehr_4

                        Featured photo credit: Gage Skidmore via en.wikipedia.org

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                        Alicia Prince

                        A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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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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