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Embrace the New

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Embrace the New

When I don’t have strong clarity about what I want to experience next in my life, I like to explore something new. I know that I want to keep growing, so I seek out new growth experiences, new places, new people. Anything new.

This default decision to embrace the new has been a powerful heuristic in guiding my life path. I find myself leaning into many experiences for the simple reason that they’re new. If I receive an invitation to try something I’ve never tried before, I tend to say yes fairly often. If I’m not sure, I nudge myself towards the affirmative. I figure that exploring something new is generally better than doing nothing. New input means learning, and I love to learn.

Sometimes I need to return to my comfort zone to catch my breath. Too much newness can feel a little overwhelming at times, so when I feel that way, I take some downtime for personal renewal. A long meditation, a solo walk at night, a journaling session, or writing a new article are restorative experiences for me.

Then when I feel ready to branch out again, I put out some fresh invitations and/or say yes to more invitations to go explore. I lean into the new. The more I do this, the more my comfort zone expands, and the more I feel capable of saying yes to experiences that I once resisted.

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Oslo

Last weekend I had a wonderful time at the Morten Hake Summit in Oslo, Norway. The summit went very well, and there’s already talk about doing another one next year.

The days before and after the summit have been a whirlwind of social activity — an 8-hour mastermind session with the other speakers, several video interviews (some of them spontaneous), nights out, parties, intimate conversations, delightful cuddle sessions, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, brainstorming new business ideas, and inspirations galore. I must have had well beyond a hundred hugs while I’ve been here, and I directly encouraged hundreds more hugs between others.

Initially I flew to Oslo with a one-way ticket. This is the second time I’ve flown to Europe this year without a return ticket booked in advance, and it’s my fourth visit to this continent since 2011.Up until 2009 I had never been outside the USA. Embracing the new has been a helpful heuristic to guide me in saying yes to travel experiences. Lately this has taken the form of doing more open-ended travel, i.e. flying somewhere without knowing where I’ll go next or when I’ll return home.

While I desire to explore other parts of the world too, lately I’ve been drawn to explore Europe. I’ve been to five countries here so far, and soon I’ll land in my sixth European country — Romania. My flight to Bucharest leaves tomorrow morning.

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Bucharest

My friend Zan Perrion likes to say, “Accept all invitations.” That’s another growth-oriented heuristic, and it nicely overlaps with “Embrace the new.” Zan invited me to come stay with him in Casa Amorata after Oslo, so in alignment with both of those heuristics, I gratefully accepted. Zan and I have been friends for several years, and like many others who know him, I love the energy that he and his friends create together — the energy of love, happiness, lightness, and beauty.

I’ve never been to Eastern Europe, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m not sure how long I’ll stay, but I already have some interesting invitations coming through for Bucharest. Once again, I bought a one-way ticket. I have no doubt that this trip will be filled with interesting growth experience. The newness of it pretty much guarantees that.

After Bucharest I may go somewhere else, or I may return to Las Vegas. I trust my intuition to make those decisions.

Familiar Unfamiliarity

As I keep leaning into new experiences, I find that the unfamiliar starts to feel increasingly familiar. Getting my bearings in new places, making new local friends, calibrating to new social environments, and learning the nuances of other cultures becomes less uncomfortable after a while. The surprises are still there, but paradoxically they’re becoming familiar surprises.

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The more I embrace the new, the more I feel at home on a path of growth and change. Going outside my comfort zone ceases to feel scary and stressful, and instead it becomes fun, stimulating, empowering, and even playful. I become comfortable in those spaces of awkwardness, confusion, and mistakes, knowing that whatever happens, I can deal with it and learn from it.

When I embrace the new, I make plenty of mistakes. I spend more time in that uncalibrated beginner phase, not really knowing what I’m doing but eager to learn. I love this phase because it’s where I learn and grow the fastest. Even simple gains, like learning to navigate a new public transportation system, feel like significant accomplishments. I love reaching the point where a once unfamiliar city feels like a place I can call home, or a previously undeveloped skill can be utilized with reasonable competence.

Embrace the New

When life begins to feel stale, embrace the new. When you’re not sure what you want, embrace the new. When you feel stuck in your job or your relationship, embrace the new.

This is not an easy path, so if you prefer to play it safe and stick with your current comfort zone, then don’t use this heuristic. But if you want to learn, grow, and become smarter, then embracing the new can serve as a powerful way to get unstuck and move forward.

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Don’t overthink this. Embrace the new isn’t rocket science, unless you want to visit a new planet. This is a simple suggestion to favor invitations (and to issue invitations) to explore the untried, the untested, and the unknown.

Much of the time you can still keep the old. Use your comfort zone as a home base. Return to it when you need a break from exploration. But eventually you may find that the zone of exploration becomes your new comfort zone. You may begin to feel at home on the road of growth and change, instead of only feeling comfortable at your favorite inn.

Embrace the New | Steve Pavlina

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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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