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Can Your Circle of Friends Influence Who You Are?

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Can Your Circle of Friends Influence Who You Are?

Those you choose to surround yourself with are crucial to your life in their own individual ways, but can they actually have an influence over who you are as a person? The lovely Simon Alexander Ong shares his insights on whether your circle of friends can influence who you become:

For many years, I lived by the belief that how smart and talented I was, would be the single, most important factor in determining my level of success in life.

The grades I thought I had to achieve through sacrificing nights, weekends and holidays for. Having to consistently be regarded as one of the top performers in my class. And, how there had to be mastery of all subjects studied, regardless of interest.

Now, I’m not saying that these accomplishments were of no use at all. In fact, I’m incredibly grateful for all the opportunities and lessons, which I’ve received from the pursuit of academic excellence.

From entering adolescence, to hunting down my first job while at university, it has allowed me to understand that hard work and perseverance are essential ingredients to getting what you want out of life. They are the catalysts that help turn visions into reality.

What hit me over time however, and particularly in the last few years, is the fact that our success in life more often than not comes down to the people we choose to spend our time with.

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How smart you are.

How talented you are.

Where you were born.

The family environment you grew up in.

These may all play some role as to how successful you will be in life, but in comparison to the impact of surrounding yourself with people who can lift you higher, it doesn’t compare.

An individual maybe born into riches but live an unhappy life, while someone from more humble beginnings maybe able to manifest their dreams in record breaking time. All because of the company they keep, which influences their way of thinking and thus resulting in a mindset for success.

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Our habits determine the person we become. Environment optimisation is an important one that can have a profound impact on your well-being.

Want to be successful? Surround yourself with successful people.

Want to be happy? Surround yourself with happy people.

Want to be healthy? Surround yourself with healthy people.

Want to become more confident? Surround yourself with confident people.

In essence, we become more like the people we hang out with.

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It’s like what Jim Rohn tells us: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Take a moment to reflect on the following: Who are the people you spend most time with? Do they elevate you or bring you down? Are they proactive go-getters exhibiting qualities that you admire or people who just sit and criticise? Do they motivate or drain you?

The awesome thing about being around positive minded individuals, who have a habit of chasing their dreams and believe in taking responsibility for their lives, is that you’ll be inclined to grow in a positive direction as well.

They will have an impact on your thinking and consequently your behaviour. They will support you on your journey and move you towards inspired action.

Maximise the amount of time you spend with these people!

“Associate only with positive, focused people who you can learn from and who will not drain your valuable energy with uninspiring attitudes. By developing relationships with those committed to constant improvement and the pursuit of the best that life has to offer, you will have plenty of company on your path to the top of whatever mountain you seek to climb.” – Robin Sharma

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The amazing thing about where we are today in terms of technology, means that you can literally surround yourself with inspiring people (e.g. through Twitter, Facebook and audio books). As a result, I’ve put together a few ideas including these more modern methods, on how you can begin creating a more optimal environment for your personal growth and success:

  • Attend events in your local town/city that appeal to your interests, can help you learn something useful, or arouse your curiosity. Make sure to bring your business cards with you!
  • Seek out people who have skills/qualities that you admire and learn from them. Never assume that they have nothing to learn from you. We can always learn something from someone, regardless of where they are in their own life.
  • Minimise the time you spend hanging out with the wrong crowd and unhealthy influences, e.g. pessimists and those that can hurt your chances of achieving success.
  • Read more. Books, blogs, etc. You will be exposed to inspiring success stories, expand your library of knowledge and nurture your creative thinking.
  • Listen to audiobooks/podcasts when you are commuting and/or relaxing.
  • Follow inspirational people and those who you can learn from on social media channels.
  • Subscribe to newsletters, which will add value to your life and help you towards your goals in life.
  • Keep perspective. While it’s important to spend your time with those who are more successful than you, it is also great for your development to be around those who are at the same stage as you (so ideas and the journey can be shared) and those below you, who you can inspire and share your wisdom with.
  • Spend less time in front of the TV and your smartphone, and more time getting out there and connecting with people. You just never know what it might lead to!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above and how you’ve benefited from both the power of relationships and a supportive environment.

To Your Success!

Simon

    As a Life Designer and Success Strategist, Simon Alexander Ong helps people create a life and career they love through unlocking their unique talents and inner awesomeness. He will be featured in the forthcoming book by Steve Forbes, titled SuccessOnomics, due for release in Spring 2014. To find out more, head over to http://simonalexanderong.com.

    How Your Circle of Friends Influence Who You Become | Simon Alexander Ong

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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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