Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Honestly speaking, I never lie

Below is a very recent article on public speaking.

It strikes a chord with me and I believe also with other fellow toastmasters. Enjoy.

Honestly speaking, I never lie


MY SKILLS at public speaking were evident at an early age.

At my high school, the teacher asked each student to tell the class what they wanted to become when they grew up.

When my turn came, I knew exactly what I wanted to say.

But as I stood in front of my classmates, my mind became my master.

It said: "What if you sound stupid? What would your friends and teacher think?"

I stood scared stiff and silent.

Nevertheless, I learnt three lessons that day.

One, the meaning of the word petrified.

Two, what butterflies in tummy feels like.

Three, never try this again.

Lack of public speaking skills didn't bother me much.

Sometimes, it was surprising to see how people who have little to say can speak loudly for so long.

Most of them prospered well and some of them became my bosses.

I have heard peers commending my bosses by saying "boss, you speak well!"... which was another way of saying that they were good for little else.

Public speaking is for people who do not know how to speak quietly in private; smart people listen, think and act... these self-serving thoughts were always handy.

Fortunately, the mind has the amazing power to provide plenty of reasons to prove that you are right, under all possible circumstances.

But, why is it that most people are afraid of public speaking?

It did intrigue me; but that was nothing to lose sleep over.

Things started to change after my son was born.

To start with, I was no longer the most important man in my wife's life.

It suits me to believe I had that honour before.

The arrival of our daughter 1 1/2 years later changed things even more.

I was not important anymore.

Whoever said "child is the father of man" might have been a father.

Just that it really means children control fathers' destiny.

When our son was four, we trained him for days for a "show-n-tell" session.

After persistent practice through pushy pedantic procedures, he could deliver every line with energy and enthusiasm in his cosy home.

On "show-n-tell" day, daddy and mummy accompanies him with Handycam in tow.

I am convinced that my children will be famous one day.

In the distant future, when the media throngs our home, we should be ready with their childhood videos.

See, I am a practical parent with significant foresight.

Lights ON, camera rolls, my prodigious son walks up on stage.

He freezes up on seeing the audience.

Oops! This was not his cosy home anymore.

He repeats everything vividly and accurately, but it was only in his mind!

What bliss of silence!

What a brutal assault on parental ego!

At that instant, I clearly understood my parents' past predicaments involving me.

Lights OFF, plight ON.

On our drive home, there was lots to express and discuss.

Emotions varied from anger, sadness, frustration, sympathy, contemplation and fault-allocation to the appropriate parental genes.

A series of similar episodes prompted me to be a positive example for my children to look up to.

I took up public speaking and got associated with Toastmasters.

While I learned the ropes, I fumbled and faltered, but persisted.

Public speaking soon became a solemn diversion for engagement and expression.

That also improved my communication with my wife - yes dear, I learnt that eye-contact and listening is also an essential facet of communication.

I felt tempted to volunteer for every opportunity to speak, whether it was to deliver a talk, be an emcee, do stand-up comedy or speech contests.

It was never easy, neither was it as difficult as it once seemed.

As Madame Curie once said: "Nothing in this world is to be feared... only understood."

The cynical among us may add "except for marriage".

Public speaking is not about speaking, it is about communicating.

It is the ability to communicate our thoughts, clearly, concisely and convincingly.

Needless to say, folks who are able to clearly and convincingly communicate their ideas get noticed and listened to.

They progress faster in their careers and life.

Some become bosses.

It does not make them smarter, but it just makes them more self-assured and acceptable.

When I speak in public, I still have butterflies in my tummy.

But the more I speak, the more the butterflies fly in formation.

But when people tell me "boss, you speak well", I scratch my clear head and think... are they making fun of me?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Say Swish

I was re-reading Unlimited Power by Antony Robbins recently. I was at this part on Swish technique. I used it yesterday nite to do away with my bad habit of touching my hair. Dunno if successful, but at least I am more conscious that I am touching my hair. So I guess, that itself is an improvement.


The Swish Technique

The Swish technique is one by which we re-direct our thinking from unwanted thoughts to more fruitful and resourceful thoughts.

This is a valuable technique for managing your own thinking, states, and behaviours. By using the Swish in your own life you develop your ability to maintain resourceful states, manage your responses to stressful situations, and engage in the behaviours you want.

Six Steps to Swish Technique
1. Select a replacement image
First select your Replacement Feeling - ask yourself How do I want to be instead.

Having selected the Replacement Feeling see and hear a detached image of yourself experiencing this feeling. It is quite important that this image is dissociated. Enhance the detail and the quality (submodalities) of this until the image is quite compelling.

2. Find the trigger for the unwanted mood
What is it that you respond to? How you know when to have the unwanted response or reaction?

Ask yourself What occurs just before this negative or un-wanted state begins? This time, you want an associated image of what is going on immediately before you engage in the unwanted activity.

3. Put the replacement in the corner of unwanted image
Imagine a small sized version of your replacement picture in the bottom corner of the unwanted picture.

4. Swish the two images meeting you want to make both images change simultaneously and with increasing speed.

Have the 'negative' image become smaller and shoot off into the distance. At the same time have the 'positive' replacement image become larger and closer until it replaces the negative image completely. Imagine a "swish" sound as you do this - hence the name. That's one Swish sound.

(Do this fairly slowly at first taking, say, 5-10 seconds to do it. Then continue, doing it a little faster each time, until you are swishing almost instantaneously - in less than a second!)

5 Clear your mind

After each Swish round blank your mind, fully! Think of something else or visualise your favourite colour. Breathing easily as you do this since some people tend to hold their breath while concentrating on doing the Swish. It is crucial to the success of the Swish to clear your mind or turn your attention outside before you do each next round.

6 Practice 5-7 times

Repeat steps 3 to 5 up to about seven times until you have difficulty in maintaining the unwanted image.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Outliers - The Story of Success

Outliers - The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell is the latest book that I have read. Tonight, I will like to share with my readers of my key takeaways from the book.

What I like about the book is the way it uses stories to support the points that the author is trying to put forward. We all love stories which add a human dimension to an otherwise dry academic work and make the book a captivating read. The most famous one would the 10,000-hour rule. And me being an involved parent is naturally drawn to his two chapters devoted to "The Trouble with Geniuses".

The 10,000-Hour Rule
The 10,000-hour rule needs little elaboration as there are tonnes of materials written about it in the Internet. It is not surprising as this is the most inspiring piece of information for us to be an outlier.

An outlier does not practise because he is good. He practises to be good. With 10,000-hours being an enormous amount of time, a great deal of perseverance and help are needed for one to stay focused in his goal. I would say it make a lot of sense. It is the same reason that the Toastmasters Club has been so successful helping people to conquer the fear of public speaking. It is the practice of delivering the speech in a supportive and encouraging environment that makes the difference. In the same light, I teach my children that there are no such things as "I cannot" as long as one puts in substantial efforts. It is important to have a goal in life and keep working towards it. It is alright to fail. As every failure carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit. I walk my talk and keep my faith going, or rather my children give me the motivation to do so.

The Trouble with Genius
My heart ached badly when I read Chris Langan's story. A genius in him was squandered away as he so lacked "practical intelligence". The latter includes things like "knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect". It is the knowledge that helps one read the situation and get what you want. This is different from analytical intelligence which is measured by IQ or intelligence quotient. IQ is in our genes. If you are smart, you are born smart. On the other hand, practical intelligence can be learnt.

So we can work on our practical intelligence. And as parents, we can help our children be more socially savvy by teaching them how to interact comfortably with adults. This means talking with them, not to them. The book detailed about children able to make special requests to teachers and doctors to accomodate their desires. I saw it in my children which I did not see it in myself. This the book explained was due to different upbringing. When I was their age, I was quiet and dared not look at adults in their eyes. My mother believed that "whatever would be, would be". That was the thinking of most working-class families then. They were pre-occupied with what and when the next meal would be.

What's Next
With these newly gained knowledge, you can bet that I will be constantly reminding my children and myself whenever a setback hits - we will need to put in more hours. We will continue to improve our practical intelligence.

As for intelligence quotient, there is something known as Neurolinguistic Programming, which could help. Antony Robbins is the guru and he has written a few books. For those who are interested, "Awaken the Giant Within" (if my memory serves me well) is a classic.