the inspiration blog

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.

slow-downnnn

 

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.

Today’s my 42nd birthday. According to Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the answer to “life, the universe and everything.” The real conundrum, though about this answer: what is the actual question?

That’s a little bit of what my life is: a search for meaning, for purpose, for answers. Since my path is transparency and authenticity, I’d like to “WholeSpeak” with you – to share with you some of my growth over the past year and beyond… and, if you’re in a stuck or growing place, I hope it might provide a little insight or inspiration.

From Being a Starving Artist to…

…So, things are going really well. This year I finally broke 6 figures in my business. But that really doesn’t make me jump for joy. I’ve always valued happiness and fulfillment over money. After all, I’m a theatre artist as well as a coach: self-expression and truth are of the utmost importance. Yet, a few years ago, I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t know enough about business, and that I was $30K in debt from simply under-earning. And I was frustrated and depressed that the world didn’t seem to appreciate what I had to offer. I won’t tell the whole story since this is a long email anyway, but I finally really did the inner work, shifted, and in 2 months’ time had like 8-10 clients a week – during the two weeks of Christmas and New Year’s!! Soon after, I started paying for a lot of coaching so I could make my results grow and be consistent.

All told, it took me around two and a half years to pay off $40,000 ($30K plus another $10K in coaching programs – I spent much more than that, actually, but used a small inheritance from my grandfather’s passing). The truth is that every online program launch was about paying off my debt more quickly. Sigh. And this summer it was DONE! It’s amazing to now have money in the bank. I can choose to upgrade my lifestyle to what excites and fulfills me more.

In sum: a few years ago I just wanted to pay my bills by doing my own work. Two years ago I had my sights on paying off my debt. And now that it’s done, the question is: what’s the life I truly desire?

Tired of Not Practicing My Art

For the past few years I’ve sacrificed my theatre work (doing only small, side projects, instead of big creations like I had been doing) in order to have a real business. But I chose this from a place of higher guidance, because I got the clear message that growing my coaching business would not just be financially smart, but also transform me… and it has. Yet, I’ve also felt like a poseur in my theatre community; it’s been hard on my ego.

I’m ridiculously impatient. I want to do everything *now* – theatre, workshops, writing 4 books… you get the picture. Plus, I became single again this year and am now dating… and want to find that one extraordinary woman… which takes focus too! So what’s next, and aligned, for my life and business?

What’s Coming Up Next

Yes, I’m a kickass coach (I’ve been doing it 17 years – I sure hope so, by now! :-)  ) and people love my online trainings. But what excites me the most? Live group workshops. It’s where I shine. As well as speaking, performing, and creating theatre.

What this means is (drumroll, please)…

  1. Greatly reducing my private coaching practice, or possibly leaving it. Note: if you want to work with me but have been waiting, now’s the time. Yes, I’m a little scared to declare that! Much still has to unfold. Also, I’m not sure of the fate of my online programs (see below).
  2. Leading live events and workshops. Whee!! …Honestly, I get a little scared about marketing these, because I know my community is international – for which I’m ridiculously grateful!! Yet, will they fly out for something that I’m deeply called to create? I know, though, that the transformation that happens live is unparalleled, so it’s simply gotta happen.
  3. More theatre, performing and live speaking. While I love helping others shine, I need to more fully claim my own voice!
  4. Being far more provocative. The truth is that I’m a provocateur. Example: I recently bought the domain name “UnconsciousBusiness.com” (which would have the tag line “Business as Usual”) to create a parody site. I feel so strongly that the world needs to be transformed and uplifted – and I MUST speak my full truth, and deliver my true message.
  5. A new platform. My work is going to shift away from mainly public speaking (although it will likely still be a subset of my work), directly into the deep transformations that happen when people work with me… personal power, self-love, authentic and expansive self-expression, deep connection, and more.

I’m dying to share the details, but feel I need to keep it inside to cook a little longer before I reveal it publicly. What I can tell you, though, is that my framework is that transformation can be FUN. Imagine personal growth workshops where you have more fun than you thought possible, while growing incredibly in a safe space. Stay tuned.

What I Don’t Know Yet…

I’ve been asked a lot recently about when I’m leading my next live online course. The issue is that running and marketing it takes up most of my energy and focus for several months – which means it’s hard to have time to do theatre or to develop the new direction of my business.

When I set out to write this newsletter, I honestly had no intention of this being anything other than a truth-telling email. But I feel called to do something – to support those who are wanting to be an empowered speaker, and perhaps also for my inner theatre creator who’s dying to get expressed. This week I’m offering Claim Your Voice, self-study version, for 50% off, my transformational 7-week training on public speaking skills, confidence and empowerment. Two important notes:

  1. Every person who enrolls will automatically fund 2 third-world entrepreneurs via kiva.org with microfinancing loans. That’s 14% of every sale. You can even choose your preference and tell me who you’d like to support.
  2. Money from all sales will go to only one thing: to support my next theatre project! So, while finding your voice, you’ll also help me get my butt back in the theatre. http://ClaimYourVoiceNow.com (full-pay option only) coupon code KIVA. Available through this coming weekend.

A few key things I hope that are conveyed here:

  • You can create change in your life anytime. It’s accessible… when you’ve truly had enough of things staying the same… and especially when you choose to get help from an expert who really resonates.
  • Positive change (in business or in our personal lives) can happen really quickly – especially if we do the INNER work first. Otherwise we end up just blocking ourselves.
  • Live Your TRUTH! Listen to the experts… and then follow your own path.

So, there you have it. Thanks for reading this whole thing – I know it’s long. I’m hoping that sharing my journey may be helpful for yours. What steps would you like to take to be more true to your own calling and path? Please speak your truth, and inspire others – share your comments below.

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    • Venus: Your way of explaining thhe whole thing in this paragrph is really good, all be capanle of effortlessly understand it, Thanks a lot.
    • ReneeDanielle: Thank You so much for sharing, if You want it sending a free, short, distance healing Your way. Blessings, and Expect Miracles, ReneeDanielle
    • Suzanne Waligore: Thank you for your insightful sharing, Jonathan. Thank you for reminding me about my choice..and to make it!
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