After emailing my community and posting here, I received a huge amount of feedback. Much of it was positive and thankful; others questioned how I could doubt the jury and due process.
It’s a complicated issue. The prosecutor has widely been regarded as not having done his job well (and even in August was named as historically siding with police, and his father was a policeman), and the grand jury has been put to shame by the American Bar Association. Plus, Blacks are 20 or 30 times more likely both to be shot and killed, and to be prosecuted, than white people.
Here are some links I’ve assembled through my own research and through the help of friends. I hope they’re of benefit.
I was planning on posting something different today – on how to talk to your ideal clients. I will do so… but right now there is only one thing on my mind. So I wrote this up, and also created a short video about it.
If you haven’t been following the story, here’s the background. Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot 6 times and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. And a grand jury just decided to not indict Wilson.
I live in Oakland, California, which has a bad rap for being a dangerous unsafe place – if you’re not from here. In actuality, Oakland has both posh, upscale neighborhoods as well as poor, economically-challenged areas; it’s also one of the most diverse communities in the country even as it’s rapidly being gentrified via the San Francisco Bay Area’s skyrocketing housing prices.
Tonight, I met with a group of friends in an 18th floor apartment one of them has, just a short walk from my home. From our safe (and, definitively privileged) location, we watched protests, police in riot gear, and hundreds of people streaming onto the freeway and stopping traffic. As I write this, the sound of helicopters is omnipresent. Similar protests are happening across the United States.
Many people in my community reading this live outside the United States; or, you may be in the U.S. but feel far away from the issue. Unfortunately, while we have a black president, we by no means live in a “post-racial society.” Unconscious prejudice and racism are still prevalent. I’m disgusted that this is still happening; the 1992 Rodney King riots occurred while I was in college, under similar circumstances – and this is still happening?
Watching these protests, and feeling heartbroken that this is today’s news and not decades old, had me feel the need to write to my community and just say this:
YOUR VOICE MATTERS.
What you say matters. And, if you don’t say anything, that matters too.
Look. While I have really strong feelings about what’s happening now, I’m called to just use this as a reminder to tell you to speak up.
I didn’t name one of my online trainings Claim Your Voice because I thought it was catchy. This is one of my deepest beliefs: we will create change in the world once we choose to step up and say what we need to say.
If you’re not speaking up about what you care about… well, let’s refer back to what pastor Martin Niemöller wrote about the rise of Nazism, as quoted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
This is not to imply that people of color can’t speak up for themselves. They have powerful voices. But those of us who benefit from white privilege also have a duty to 1) really get what this is about, and then 2) speak about it. Here’s my favorite quote on the topic I’ve seen so far: “White privilege is me being outraged and angered by the Ferguson decision rather than utterly terrified.”
Do it. Choose to speak up about what’s important… to you, and to the world.
You can make a difference. For example:
Write and give a speech.
Write a blog.
Create a YouTube video.
What do you need to speak about? What have you been holding back saying? Why? What are you afraid of? It’s okay if people don’t like you. Really. They may not anyway.
But we have to speak.
You can disagree with me if you want. It’s an explosive issue. It should be. But I really want to know what you deeply want and need to speak about.
Leave your comments below.
Here’s an interesting little story about what we take for granted: how technology transforms our lives, our mindsets, and our experiences.
When I was departing Bali in September to return to California, I saw an elderly man escorted by his younger relatives, heading into the airport – likely to meet an arriving relative. He was new to airports: in fact, I witnessed what must have been his first experience with a moving walkway. He stepped onto it with great hesitancy, and *leaped* off of it at the end.
And maybe he was the “healthier” one. We’re so technologized at this point – yes, with our smartphones, but with so many elements of technology that we don’t even think about anymore. Is this healthy? We of course gain great conveniences – but what do we lose? With this cyborgian mindset of having things done for us without even thinking? Is there an aspect of being human that gets lost?
Action: When you find ourself inconvenienced by something technological that doesn’t quite work right, try taking the very slow route – and reveling in it.
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.