You may have recently seen me announce a 3-day workshop in November called WholeSpeak Core Intensive: Speak with Power and Presence. I was looking forward to leading this transformational event that teaches my proven methods to transform fear and nervousness into presence and confidence, as well as all public speaking essentials, with the support of my fully-trained WholeSpeak coaches. Having coached public speaking for decades, I know the power of the WholeSpeak Method: it not only teaches incredible skills – it also consistently changes lives.
And yet, I’ve had a hard time putting the word out. Every time I went to do it, I stopped in my tracks. Inside, the message was “No. Wait. Not right now.” While I truly was looking forward to a transformative 3 days, another part of me was saying no. As difficult as it was, being a man of my word who is committed to follow-through… I finally listened. I called the venue, all of my WholeSpeak coaches, and those who were thinking of coming, and said: the intensive will happen later, but not now.
What happened? Well, here’s the truth: recently I’ve felt like I haven’t fully living my purpose, and I can’t keep doing that. Let me briefly explain.
I’ve known since a young age that I’m on the planet to create transformation: all of my work (be it theatre, coaching, workshops or my writing) is for that purpose. Now, when people get help from me with public speaking, they’re definitively receiving professional skills… and also are stepping more fully into their authentic, fully alive selves.
However, primarily coaching public speaking has felt off-target… like a disguise for what I really do. All of my being is screaming for me to step into more overtly offering my work as intentional personal transformation, not solely as a professional development skill.
This isn’t new: I have taught performance-based workshops focused on personal growth since 2006, even before I founded WholeSpeak. And my Masters’ theses for both of my graduate degrees even helped me create a unique theoretical foundation, as well as a methodology.
I call this body of work “The Performance of Your Life.” It excites me to no end… and includes many teachings that are so dear to my heart, like workshops on Presence as well as the Art of Connection. There’s a lot more to say about it later… this email is really not intended to market it. I just wanted to come out and say what’s been going on.
Even though I’m known for being up-front and very open, sending this out (instead of just not saying anything, and quietly canceling it) was a scary choice, but felt important to do. During the past several years, I haven’t had a single “failure” (although my earlier coaching years were another story). And yet, I teach my clients to embrace failing – because taking risks is how we grow. Ironically, in this case, postponing the workshop was the bigger growth opportunity: it would have been better business-wise to do it as planned. But I made the difficult choice to risk disappointing a lot of people, and to heed the calling of my inner voice.
Note: if you’re in my community because you want to find confidence and unparalleled skills in public speaking, do not worry: that will still be offered, through coaching, workshops and online trainings. It’s not going away, and I’ll announce new opportunities for learning this soon.
And, if you were looking attending the November WholeSpeak Core Intensive but hadn’t been in touch yet, please email me back. There are other training options available (like coaching, online trainings, and small groups), and we’ll find the right one for you.
So, that’s my news… and now, I’d like to ask you:
What are you doing that isn’t feeling aligned? Are there aspects of your work you’re really done with?
What do you love that you aren’t doing? What calls to your soul right now?
And, is there a way you can celebrate risk-taking and “failing” more?
I’d love to hear from you. Would you answer one or more of these questions below as a comment? Share, and join me in being “out” what what is really going on – and get support.
Today marks the start of using more video – and the start of a new YouTube channel called “The Performance of Your Life,” which you’ll hear more about in the future.
Let me know what you think. -Jonathan
Most of us have no idea about what we can do with our voice, or how to use it in all of its potential. Many people don’t conceive of what it means to discover their true range of vocal power.
Then again, perhaps it’s difficult to grasp what it means to truly reside in our power.
This is a topic I think about quite often; it’s been a big part of my own journey, from feeling very powerless early in life, to eventually coming more fully into my power. This is a life journey for many of us…. It’s about owning all that we are, and embodying and wielding it responsibly, and with heart.
And the same thing goes for your voice. Did you realize that your voice reflects your experience, your power, and what aspects of yourself are easily accessible?
For example, if you’re uncomfortable (be it in life talking with one person, or in a speaking engagement), it’s incredibly common to freeze up and lose a lot of your vocal and physical expression. Your voice gets “flat” and your TMJ area may get tighter. In this case, you’re locking up your true expression, which perhaps only those closest to you get to see – and are not releasing into our power. Power isn’t about trying to be “big” or forcing it out; it’s about relaxing into all that we are.
Having a Dynamic Voice – and Thoughts on Authenticity
As well, we have so many vocal dynamics available to us… and yet most people generally utilize very few of them. With my clients and in workshops, I often address dynamics like pitch, tempo, volume, enunciation variation, and powerful pronunciation. Did you know that each of them has a different energetic and psychological correlation? For example, I’ve found that if you don’t enunciate strongly, that’s energetically associated with holding back from really impacting others. In terms of pitch, if you habitually have a high voice, your voice is likely disconnected from your power center – and needs to be reclaimed.
You can radically enhance your voice – and, as you do, reclaim more of your power. This is, of course, not power over others… but power within. And yet, it affects others strongly. All sound is vibration – and your voice resonates within other people when they hear it.
Because 50-80% of communication is nonverbal – both body language and vocal tone – how we speak often matters more than what we say. For example, learning how to have a more resonant, fuller voice will affect others’ feelings about you (even though they typically won’t know why).
When we transform how we speak, it challenges our ideas about ourselves because we’ve never heard our voice that way before. Some people tell me, “Oh, using my voice that way isn’t authentic!” My response is, typically, “No – that’s not being habitual.” Because enhancing self-expression is a process of self-expansion.
What’s needed first?
Before you start to radically enhance your voice, however, it’s essential to begin with stepping into your power – and your presence – as a speaker… and in your life. Foundations must be laid that will open up your voice and your presence. Once those are set, you can then start to find the incredible self-expression of which you are fully capable.
And, on that note… keep an eye out for a special invitation soon. I’ll be announcing an intensive 3-day retreat in the San Francisco Bay Area mid-November, that you won’t want to miss. Hint: it has to to do with finding power and presence – as a speaker and in life.
How aware are you of the potential that your voice holds? Do you realize when you freeze up and are holding back? And… do you know that this can radically change?
Please leave your comments and questions below!
I’m in Boulder, Colorado for a week, where I’m starting development of a new one-man show. I did one of my graduate degrees here at Naropa University, and returned to work with an old friend and collaborator. It’s my first new solo theatre piece in a good while… and so exciting to be diving back in!
At the same time, it’s also scary and intimidating. I always take on topics where I don’t have all of the answers. My last show was about Jewish identity, and my new show is about being a man. Pretty big topics, which can become quite overwhelming.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed whenever we’re doing something new – because we don’t know the twists and turns of the path. When we’re still trying to figure it all out, we can feel swept away or off-course. And it’s hard to see the destination when we’re mid-river. When we don’t know how we’ll get there, it’s easy to hesitate, question what we’re doing, and procrastinate… or even give up out of self-doubt.
The fact is, if we’re doing something new, we seldom have a map of how to get to our destination. At best, we can follow others’ advice or strategies; yet, we have to take the journey ourselves, and make it our own. This is true with our businesses, and our lives – whenever we set a new goal, it’s always an adventure – which sometimes feels like stumbling around in the dark. Yet, there’s always a flow to it.
This is also true with public speaking. Even if you’re giving the same signature talk for the umpteenth time, every time you do it is different. Your audience is different… the room or surroundings likely change… and current events have shifted. In sum, the energy will be unique every time.
Which is why it’s essential to be present. (Tangential reminder, if you haven’t heard me say it before: presence is the art of being fully present.) If we’re present, and open, and listening, we can feel what’s needed next. You might slightly change how you word what you say… or you could change the delivery. If you’re tuned in, and going with the flow, it gets easy. If you resist and try to force things, you may drown; but if you let go, the river will take you where you want to go.
Going with the flow means trusting you can handle anything that happens. In other words, you don’t need to have any fear or nervousness, because you know you can deal with whatever arises.
Whether in regards to a speaking engagement, with our businesses, or in other areas of life, things seldom go just as we plan or as we expect. But in that moment when the river changes course, we can listen inwardly, look outside to what is going on, and tap in… and we can do what that moment needs.
For speaking, of course, a fair amount of preparation is needed. It’s essential to have a wide toolset to draw upon, so that you can adeptly handle anything that happens. And it takes skills and practice… which is what WholeSpeak coaching and workshops are for. Stay tuned for announcements of some powerful workshops happening this year.
When times are challenging, what do you do to get back in the flow? Please leave a comment and share.
I’ve been going, going, going – both outwardly with all of the activities I named above, and also with deep inner work. While I do my best to also simply enjoy life, I also am constantly on a path of personal and spiritual growth.
While I think I’ve been doing fairly well at staying centered and not rushing, apparently I needed to slow down even more: yesterday I sprained my ankle. And this morning, my neighbor called me to tell me that I have a flat tire on my car. Hmmm.
Luckily, my ankle isn’t too bad – after all, my coach training program starts in mere days! But it was a message to look at how I’m operating.
It’s easy to subconsciously hold the belief that moving quickly, to grow our businesses, means that we have to be stressed and anxious, or even have a packed schedule. This really isn’t true. In fact, most people procrastinate a lot (which is really a block that can emerge due to various reasons, such as fear that we won’t succeed, the fear of rejection, or out of perfectionist tendencies). and don’t use their time well. Or, we can waste time Web-surfing or on Facebook – which feels as if we’re productive, when in fact our minds are just busy.
In fact, creating extra space, and slowing down, is a form of self-care that allows us to really get things done. This nurturing of the parasympathetic nervous system lets us prepare to take action. That’s right – it’s actually a functioning of the nervous system. We need down time in order to then be ready for action (or, a the sympathetic response). Incidentally, with speaking, publicly or otherwise, a pause functions the same way: we need silence to be able to hear the words better. And we need to take a pause to get ready to really move. Sometimes this is a moment; sometimes it’s a year of self-development and preparation, or focusing on other things.
Assuming you’re ready to get things moving sooner, are a few suggestions, to implement if you’re not doing them regularly:
- Meditate. Do whatever practice works for you, or even just contemplate the sky.
- Go for walks in nature. Nature energy rejuvenates, and provides space for action.
- Move your body. Get out of your head, and just enjoy kinesthetic movement – be it dancing, exercise, heightened bodily awareness while doing the dishes, or other somatic techniques.
- Laugh. Or, cry. Take breaks to just feel and express what’s needed.
By taking these moments to slow down and get present, you can then get ready to really move into action, and use your time more efficiently when working… and make sure you’re spending more time fully enjoying your life.
As for me, my ankle is already getting better – but, long-distance healing is very welcome. I can’t take those walks outside for a bit… but my dish-washing includes a new dance move!
How do you want to slow down? What works for you? Please comment below.
Happy New Year! Today’s typically the day for discussing resolutions. We all know there’s a trap in saying we want something… and yet it not happening. So let’s discuss another term that often traps us: potential.
Right now, “potential” is one of my least favorite words. I have so many big dreams for what I want to do with my life’s purpose and work in the world… that it can start to feel like a burden after a while. Feel familiar? I’ve also experienced this with dating. We can feel a lot of love, connection, commonalities, and potential for a life together… and yet find ourselves struggling due to whatever dynamics are present. The potential is real, but is not what’s at hand.
Focusing on potential keeps us stuck in possibility – and can even prolong suffering. While it’s good to dream, it’s very different than actually choosing to take action and bring something into reality.
Similarly, we may judge ourselves as not having potential, talent, or the ability to do something… even though we actually can! It’s often our beliefs about ourselves that get in our way. In this case, our perception of potential is a negative and limiting trap.
Whether it’s in reference to yourself, a relationship, a job, or anything in your life, here’s my suggestion: forget about its potential. Instead, decide what you actually want to happen. To create.
Here are a series of steps that I’ve found to be helpful:
1) Examine your current circumstances. What do you want to change, or bring into being?
2) With that in mind, look at what you’re willing to take action on in the immediate future. Don’t think too far off. And your goal can be a stretch, but make sure it feels exciting, and not too big that it weighs you down. (You can always do this exercise again in the future with bigger goals – so just what truly feels like the next steps right now.) You may want to go into meditation, and ask Source to provide you with insight – but also really listen inwardly as well. What choices make your body and energy feel lighter and freer?
3) Acknowledge outside circumstances that are beyond your control. Know what you absolutely can’t change. Often, this is another person, unless they want to and are ready. Note areas that feel intractable… and look at steps 4 and 6 to make sure that’s true.
4) Figure out where you need help – and then research and utilize outside resources. Find out where you need assistance. There may be more possibility for bringing things to fruition than you currently realize, and we need help with areas where we’re not experts (unless we want to take a really, really long time). This could mean reading a book, looking into a loan or grant for personal or professional uses, or getting support from a coach or professional, among other things.
5) Make an action plan – and do it! Get as specific as possible, with small steps that are doable – not big goals that are intangible. There’s a difference between “get a job” or “get a client” and “go to 2 networking events this week, and follow up with new connections.” And if that’s too hard, simply researching networking events is a good step – or even turning on the computer. Break it down into whatever feels doable.
6) Get help with your blocks. Nothing to be ashamed about here – we all have them. Whether with a therapist, healer, coach, or perhaps a skilled friend who knows you well, let go of the illusion that you can do it alone. We all need support.
7) Celebrate! Even taking little steps is a big thing if you haven’t been doing them. Give yourself little rewards, and be kind to yourself.
You may think of other steps you need as well; this just a template that I hope you find useful.
Now, the truth is that I’m really writing this for myself. And hopefully it’ll help you too. I’m committing to doing this with my life. Want to join me? (I’m pretty busy with other projects, but if there were sufficient interest, I’d consider starting up what I call an Inspiration Team – so that we can do it together. This isn’t a pitch; I just like to be of service.)
What would you like to create in 2014? I’d love to hear about it, and to hear your thoughts on my pretty unconventional take on potential.
Please leave your thoughts below in a comment. Blessings for a joyous, prosperous and wholly fulfilling 2014!!!
Every Saturday morning that I’m in town, I walk over to the farmer’s market near where I live (a cute neighborhood in Oakland, California, right by a lake). I love buying organic fruits and vegetables, in season, straight from the people who grow them – and have gotten to be friends with some of the vendors too.
At the farmer’s market, I’ve made it a regular practice to buy flowers. Sometimes I see a glint in a passerby’s eye, a “knowing look,” wondering what lucky woman is getting them.
But they’re for me. That’s right: every week I buy myself flowers. Sure, if I’m dating someone, she may be getting flowers too. :-) But I first buy for myself the color and arrangement that I intuitively feel will nurture me that week. And when I look at them across from my desk over the coming days, I feel kindness toward myself.
It’s a self-love practice.
Self-love is one of the most important things we need to find confidence – in life, and certainly as speakers.
As you know, we are our own biggest critics. Which means that we’re generally the ones getting in our own way, and stopping ourselves from enjoying life and appreciating our successes. For example, many speakers get angry at themselves when they make a mistake.
Have you ever had a speaking engagement, or something else with high stakes, where it mostly went well… except for that one thing didn’t go quite right? Did you fixate on that one little issue, and blow it out of proportion? Or, did you notice it, take note of what to adjust for next time, and then appreciate all of your hard work as well as everything that went well?
Yes, it’s possible to do that! But it takes practice, and changing our orientation around what happens when things don’t go as planned.
One of the most essential aspects of speaking, and confidence, is our relationship to ourselves. Instead of being self-critical, could you be kind to yourself? Become your best friend, instead of your worst critic?
For some, self-love feels like a tall order. So I often start my clients off with generating compassion instead, using a compassion meditation that begins to change their response to themselves. This is a repatterning of self-destructive thoughts and feelings that, unfortunately, we pretty much all do. Your goal is to be able to be kind to yourself when something doesn’t go right – when speaking, or in life.
There’s much more to the topic of dealing with “making mistakes” (if there really is such a thing), including more fully trusting the flow of life. And we can develop greater capacity for handling whatever arises – because with public speaking (and everything else, for that matter), it will never quite go as we expect! Still, generating lovingkindness toward ourselves is a pretty great place to start.
So, whether you buy yourself flowers, do a metta/compassion/lovingkindness meditation, or another practice, please: be kind to yourself. I guarantee that when you are nicer to the person you spend the most time with – yourself – you’ll not only feel better. Your audience (and everyone else, for that matter) will also sense this, and feel safer with you as a result… and welcome you into their hearts even more.
Will you share your comments and feelings about this below? I’d love to hear your thoughts.