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5 Ways to Be a Real Life Superhero

5 Ways to Be a Real Life Superhero

When I was seven years old, I got the greatest Christmas gift ever. As I tore away the crisp, Santa-Claus-decorated paper, it revealed the most perfect present: a Batman costume, complete with belt and shoes. I ran, I jumped, I rolled, I climbed, I hid and I saved everyone in the house from all the dangers that the holiday season could bring. It was one of the best days of my life.

Ever since that day, I’ve been fixated on comic books and superheroes, their place as Modern Mythology, and all the ideals they bring: saving lives, fighting crime and making the world a better place.

As an adult, I realize I actually have the power to be a superhero. I may not be able to fly, grow claws or regenerate my limbs — but I can make a difference to someone’s life.

We all have the power to be a superhero to someone, even if we don’t have the spandex to go with it. Here are five ways you can be a real life superhero:

1. Use the Things You Have to Help Someone Without Them

Want to be a true superhero? This is the most important step. At its foundation, a superhero uses the things that they have to help those who don’t have them.

Batman used his supreme wealth to keep the citizens of Gotham safe. The Green Lantern uses his immense powers to save multiple universes on a daily basis, and Spiderman uses his web-slinging awesomeness to keep the people of New York safe.

Think about what it is that you can give that nobody else can.

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It could be your support, time, mentorship, a small gift or a thank-you card. Sometimes, even just the most innocuous social media message can bring someone out of the darkness and into the light.

It’s something that you have to give that can help another.

Stuck? Why not look at Kickstarter for ideas — or just simply pay someone a compliment?

2. Keep Yourself Healthy

You can’t be a superhero and not take at least take some care of your body. Unless you’re like Bruce Banner, and can transform into Lou Ferrigno when you spill the table salt, it’s a good idea to invest in your body.

Be proactive in looking after your body, and helping people will become easier. You will have clarity of mind, energy to accomplish any task and the strength to move whatever obstacles get in your way. It also means you look completely bad-ass if the chance to wear spandex ever comes around.

You don’t need to look like Thor, or have the abdominals of Wonder Woman to be a superhero for somebody. But investing in a gym membership or a pair of running shoes could be the difference between you being able to help someone or not.

Want to get in shape like a real superhero? Check out the Nerd Fitness Blog.

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3. Pick Your Fight

Every superhero has a battle. Something that drives them to be the person they are. That gives them not just a want to help people, but a reason why.

Batman and Spiderman both fought to protect other people’s families from the injustices that happened to their own. Captain America fought to be the soldier he was told he would never be and Charles Xavier fought for his belief in the mutant race.

What’s your fight?

It could be anything from blogging on the failures of the education system, or working towards helping reduce the number of homeless veterans on the street. The fight does not need to be big, but it needs to be powerful. It needs to drive you to get out of bed, do something and help people, even if it’s as niche as helping people weed their gardens effectively.

Can’t think? Try to picture what it is you feel is wrong with the world, or your hobby or your profession. When you find something that lights a fire in you, you’ve found your fight.

Then, try to sum it up in five words.

“Protect Gotham City from Evil,” for example.

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3. Make Someone’s Day

Real life superheroes go out of their way to improve the lives of all the people they encounter. They want to do whatever it is they can to turn someone’s bad day into a good one.

Thankfully, most bad days in the real world don’t involve someone trying to blow up the city, hold you hostage on a boat or creating a mutant army to band together and eradicate your species, so don’t worry about that.

But what small gesture, piece of help or amount of time can you give to someone to improve their lives?

You can’t make everyone’s day, every day of the week, but try to go out of your way to absolutely make someone’s day every once in a while. The Avengers will thank you for it.

4. Stay Optimistic

Superheroes can be labeled many things, but pessimistic isn’t one of them. They retain a clear sense of optimism and a will to succeed regardless of whatever is thrown their way. Even if there are no odds stacked in their favor.

Even when there were only 10 mutants left on the face of the Earth, Charles Xavier never indulged the thought of extinction. Through the fears, the doubts and unevenly stacked armies, he kept his faith in his beliefs and what he was trying to achieve.

Your optimism, hopes and beliefs will be challenged, but stay true to your course. Being as optimistic as possible will not only help you see it out to the end, but give strength to those around you.

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5. Don’t Do It for the Credit

Superheroes wear masks, not only for the protection of the people around them, but for the protection of themselves. They do not seek credit, fame or glory for their acts. They just want to get up, save the world and forget it ever happened.

Their fight transcends credit and accolades, but comes from deep within. Batman never hangs around for press interviews and Spiderman has swung off in to the distance before the first thank you has even been uttered.

The world loves Spiderman, but Peter Parker is nothing more to New Yorkers than an orphan living in a one-person bedsit. For the person behind the mask, there is nothing more than a sense of satisfaction for helping someone.

No matter what it is you do — whether it’s carrying someone’s shopping, or painting their house — never go into it with the motivation of, “What’s in it for me?” Think of it in terms of, “What’s in it for them?”

Now, which superhero will you be?

Featured photo credit: Eneas 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)

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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