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21 Life Changing Autobiographies From Around The World

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21 Life Changing Autobiographies From Around The World

Some of the greatest humans have chronicled extremely important events in their life. Reading into how they handle these experiences and how they overcome challenges can be both illuminating and rewarding. These 20 autobiographies will motivate, inspire, and amaze you. Read them, and they will surely change the way you look at life.

1. The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie – Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

    Andrew Carnegie lived to be one of the greatest businessmen of his generation. His autobiography details his ascent from living on the streets to founding an amazingly successful company. You’ll gain great insights from Carnegie throughout the book.

    2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X –  Malcolm X

    malcolm x

      Malcolm X represents one of the most significant figures in the civil rights movement. His autobiography, published in 1965, allows readers to understand his philosophy on black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism.

      3. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – Benjamin Franklin

      benjamin franklin

        This autobiography from one of the United States’ founding fathers is a must read by both historical and self-improvement standards. The book reveals the formation of Franklin’s ideas, his youth, and his rise from poverty to riches. Benjamin Franklin represents one of the first true examples of the American dream – the idea that a man can rise to financial independence through plain-old hardwork.

        4. Up From Slavery – Booker T. Washington

        booker t washington

          Booker T. Washington represents an important figure in the struggle for equal rights in America. He firmly believed in education as a path to equality. Take a look into his childhood immersed in a world of slavery and the founding of the ideas that would make him recognized world wide.

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          5. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

          anne frank

            The Diary of a Young Girl details Anne Frank’s life as a fugitive during World War II. The book reveals the experiences of a teenager in the worst of the Holocaust. Her insights, compassion, and spiritual depth serve to deliver a diary beyond her years.

            6. Long Walk To Freedom – Nelson Mandela

            nelson mandela

              Nelson Mandela grew to be a notable South African president. Much of his memoir was written during his 27 years spent unjustly in prison. Long Walk To Freedom puts words to his ideas and deserves a place on your shelf.

              7. A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

              a moveable feast

                Hemingway remains a creative to be rivaled. Published after his death, A Moveable Feast combines his papers into a work that illustrates his youth in Paris in the 1920s.

                8. Homage To Catalonia – George Orwell

                homage to catalonia

                  In Homage To Catalonia, George Orwell tells the tale of his role in the Spanish war in 1936 where he took up arms against the fascists.

                  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

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                  i know why the caged bird sings

                    In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou vividly accounts her life growing up in the depression as a black woman. The story is both moving and eye-opening.

                    10. Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt

                    angela's ashes

                      Frank McCourt grew up in Brooklyn during the Depression poverty struck. In Angela’s Ashes he tells his powerful story of a drunken father, a loving mother, and a life under extreme poverty.

                      11. A Child Called It – Dave Pelzer

                      dave pelzer

                        In both a horrifying and gripping manner, Dave Pelzer reveals the shadows of a childhood haunted by abuse. The book can be hard to read at times, but ultimately opens one’s eyes to the terrible tragedy that is child abuse.

                        12. All Creatures Great and Small – James Herriot

                        james herriot

                          All Creatures Great and Small is a lighthearted collection of James Herriot’s stories as a veterinarian in Yorkshire Dales. The book is satisfying and easy to pick up. Great for when you’re looking for some light reading.

                          13. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King

                          stephen king

                            Stephen King, one of the bestselling authors of all time, gives a class on writing through a memoir of his life. It’s entertaining for casual readers and illuminating for those looking to improve their writing skills.

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                            14. The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Bloom

                            corrie ten bloom

                              The Hiding Place explains the amazing story of Corrie ten Bloom and her family. Together, they became leaders in the Dutch underground during World War II, hiding Jewish refugees from the Nazis.

                              15. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand

                              unbroken

                                Okay I cheated. This is actually an account of Louis Zamperini by Laura Hillenbrand, so technically it’s not an autobiography. Either way, you need to check it out. The book puts you into the shoes of a man pushed to the limit in the middle of the ocean after a plane crash in World War II. It will both inspire and astound you.

                                16. Night – Elie Weisel

                                elie weisel

                                  In Night, Elie Weisel writes of his experience with his father in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. He discusses his disgust in humanity as his father descends into a helpless state where he, as a teenager, must pick up the slack to take care of him.

                                  17. The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

                                  the last lecture

                                    In August 2007, the doctors gave Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, a terminal diagnosis for his cancer. He gave his final lecture on September of the same year titled: ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.’ In his book he expands on his ideas of the lecture in a written form. Definitely worth checking out.

                                    18. The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls

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                                    jeannette walls

                                      The Glass Castle tells the story of Jeanette Walls and her childhood. With an uncommitted mother, and a father who loses himself to alcohol, the Walls children are forced to learn to take care of themselves. A great story.

                                      19. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

                                      man's search

                                        Viktor Frankl lived to tell the tale of his life in four different concentration camps in Germany during World War II. Man’s Search for Meaning guides readers through these experiences and brings them lessons on spiritual survival. This book has some great takeaways and should definitely have a place on your shelf.

                                        20. The Story of My Life – Helen Keller

                                        the story of my life

                                          Helen Keller, a name recognized by nearly everyone in American culture, grew up both blind and deaf. The Story of My Life is her autobiography about overcoming such great obstacles through pain and hardwork.

                                          21. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood – Marjane Satrapi

                                          marjane satrapi

                                            In Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi talks of her life as young girl during the Islamic Revolution. Don’t let the idea that the book is a graphic novel stop you – it remains quite as moving as any other memoir on this list.

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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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