Sometimes You Gotta Slow Down to Speed up

For those of us living in fast moving, high tech, always connected cultures, this is not just some hot topic from the mindfulness movement. It’s becoming increasingly urgent for our health and well-being that we remember to unplug, slow down, and quiet our minds.

When we slow down, we create the space and energy needed to not only speed back up (and to do so more intentionally and strategically,) but also to thrive, to grow, to evolve, and to find clarity. That’s exactly what I’m intending to do down here in Costa Rica for the next three weeks.

playa

Recently I’ve felt as though I’m staring into a thick fog, straining my eyes in order to make out something in the distance. It’s as if there is a shift or epiphany of some kind coming, but I can’t quite make out what it looks like or what the message is.

I can feel the essence of it. The intoxicating pull of something I don’t yet understand but can’t deny the strength of. There is clarity there. Focus. Resonance. I suspect it’s related to my business, but it could be something else entirely.

I also know I can’t force it. The harder I look for the answers, the more they escape me. It’s like when you wake up from a vivid dream and can still feel the richness of it, but as soon as you try to bring the specifics of it into consciousness they slip away, out of reach. I have to step back, let the distractions fade away, and trust that the answers will show up when the time is right.

We planned this trip ages ago, since Chris’ family is putting on a reunion of sorts, and we figured we’d head out a few weeks early. (We got engaged a week before leaving, so it became a celebratory trip too.) Yet, the timing feels so appropriate, given my current state of mind. There is nothing but space and time down here in paradise and I am grateful to be here right now. Pura vida!

puravida

It’s so easy to get caught up in the frenetic pace of city life. I think the tendency to rush through one thing and onto the next thing is deeply ingrained in many of us. In my case, I’ve been in crazy mode since leaving my last job in February in order to focus on building my own business full time.

I’ve been hustling like a madman to make ends meet while still being fiercely determined to stay true to myself, honor my values, and be actively creating the business and lifestyle of my dreams. It’s been amazing, and ridiculously challenging. The work is thrilling for me and transformational for my clients. Finding the clients and creating steady income is where the crazy comes in. I’ve experimented a lot, failed a lot, learned a lot, have grown the business slowly but steadily, and I have a loooooong way to go. I’m prepared to buckle down and continue to work hard creating something that is not just aligned with who I am and what I stand for, but that is scalable, sustainable, and successful.

That being said, our bodies and our souls need time to slow down. Not just to replenish, recharge, and relax but also to allow our inner wisdom to emerge. We can give ourselves this gift through regular meditation, vacation, and many other forms of self-care. But how often to we neglect this need? How many of us show up, with the best of intentions, depleted, stressed and confused, because we’ve neglected to slow down, create space for rest and recovery, and do whatever else it is we need in terms of self-care?

Today, I’m sinking into the slower pace of life. I’m working on letting go of expectations and assumptions and practicing the art of being in the moment. Instead of trying hard to find the answers, I’m relaxing into just being with the fog until it clears.

 

How to Kick Ass at Public Speaking

Public speaking. Most people hate it. A few of us love it. Many jobs require it and being good at it can open a lot of doors. Why not learn to kick ass at it? Here is my take on how.

microphone photo

Embrace your fear

Fear shows up in some shape or form, usually nerves, for most of us when we know we’re going to speak in front of a group. Being nervous is normal and healthy. Embrace it. Find a way to move through it, dance with it, or harness it. It’s just energy. Let it empower you. If you have rituals or practices that help you get grounded, use them.

Be authentic

As the Chinese proverb says, “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” Let go of the ideas you have about what a person is supposed to look, act, and sound like when speaking in public and just talk. The harder you try to be someone or something else, the more obvious it is to the audience and the less interesting you are to listen to.

Know your why

If you don’t know why you’re up there, the audience won’t either. Be clear on your purpose for giving the talk. Are you there to entertain? To educate? To inspire? What is your message? Keep your content simple and focus on one core theme or idea. Help your listeners understand why it’s meaningful to you.

Don’t memorize every word

There are lots of techniques you can use to remember what you want to cover (use a powerpoint presentation, refer to an outline, use note cards, memorize the outline etc.) but memorizing every word of a speech is rarely the way to go. It just doesn’t sound natural. Know the story instead. Understand the emotional journey you want to take your audience on, but don’t memorize every word.

Slow down

Slow everything down – your words, your breathing, your hand gestures, your facial expressions. We inevitably speed up when nervous so do your best to consciously slow down your speech. This also gives you time to think. After making an important point, pause to allow it to land. The more relaxed and grounded you seem up there, the more relaxed and grounded your audience will feel.

Use natural body language

Move in a way that is authentic to you. If you are expressive and talk with your hands, do that. If you are pretty laid back and don’t move around a lot, do that. The point is, find something that feels right for you, rather than trying to move how you think you’re supposed to move. Some of the best talks I’ve seen were delivered by speakers who barely moved at all. Turn up the dial on your own energy to engage the crowd, but avoid being fake.

Be aware of your breath and voice

Breathe. If you are running out of breath, the audience will feel like they are running out of breath. Consciously slowing down and controlling your breathing will improve many things about your delivery and your own experience. Take advantage of the full range, volume, and tone of your voice to bring your listeners into the emotional experience of your story. Your voice is an extremely powerful instrument. Learn to use it intentionally.

Be present and read the room

When you are grounded and present, you are better able to read the room and detect the subtle shifts happening in the energy in the room. If you are caught up in your own story or obsessively worrying what people might think, you probably won’t notice that the back of the room has checked out. By being completely in the moment, you can better sense what’s going on around you, and adjust your presentation accordingly.

Invest in the process, then let go of the outcome

Prepare. Practice. Then practice some more. Really invest in the process. Then, as soon as you walk onto the stage let go of the outcome and just have fun. Trust that you’ve put in the work and will find the words. Tap into your authentic self and speak from your heart. Let go of getting it right and looking good. Be flexible and open to whatever comes up.

If you end up using any of these tips, I would love to hear how it goes. Leave a comment or send me a note.

The Possing Manifesto

I present to you: The Possing Manifesto.

You always have a choice.

Take radical responsibility for every part of your life.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Respect their journey and live yours.

Be present. Be grateful. See the beauty all around you.

Don’t fear your emotions, feel them.

You are a feisty beast. Run wild and be free.

Every day is an adventure. Play hard.

There is nothing more badass than being who you are. Own it.

Stand tall, make good eye contact, and speak up. Your voice matters.

Be courageous. Fail gloriously. Let go of looking good and getting it right.

Clarity and self-awareness are key. Know who you are and what you want.

Prioritize self-care. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

Live on purpose. Seek aliveness.

Create more than you consume.

Invest in the process. Let go of the outcome.

Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Speak your truth.

Ask for help when you need it.

Replace judgment with curiosity. Replace jealousy with inspiration.

Respond intentionally, instead of reacting defensively.

Take bold action. Action creates energy. You can course correct later.

Never assume. Just ask. Keep it simple.

Come from a place of love, compassion, and respect. Always.

Be authentic, vulnerable, and real. Connect genuinely.

Do meaningful work. Work hard but hack life and be smart.

Be a resource. Be helpful. Be kind. Be generous.

You CAN change the world. Go do it.

I wrote this manifesto for The Twenty-One Day Momentum Challenge

My Top 10 Core Values

When I honor my core values I feel grounded, vibrant, and alive. When I don’t honor my core values, I feel imbalanced and uneasy. Sometimes even physically uncomfortable. 

I believe that getting clear on our core values and honoring them is an integral part of the journey to living a happy, fulfilling life. In order to honor our values, of course, we need to know what they are. In an effort to become crystal clear on my own values, I finally compiled a list. 

Here are my top 10 core values (in no particular order) and what they mean to me:

  1. Clarity – know who I am, what I want, what I’m about, and why I’m here
  2. Self awareness – know myself intimately (strengths, weaknesses, passions, quirks)

  3. Authenticity – be unapologetically me, vulnerable, raw, and real and own it completely

  4. Personal freedom – be in charge of my own experience, know I always have a choice

  5. Radical responsibility –  be 100% responsible for my thoughts, actions, and impact

  6. Radical honesty – say what I mean and mean what I say, be direct, and be clear

  7. Respect – let go of judgment, be curious, be compassionate, accept others as they are

  8. Connection – seek out, embrace, create genuine connections with others, soul to soul

  9. Simplicity – let go of what isn’t serving me to create space for what’s most important

  10. Adventure – choose to make my life an adventure every day, spread joy, be playful

This list will continue to evolve as I do. But understanding what I deeply believe guides me to actively create a life aligned with who I am. When I take a wrong turn, I simply refer back to my core values, reevaluate, then course correct.

Through this process, I am learning to 1) quickly recognize when my values are being stepped on,  2) calmly set boundaries and stand up for myself, and 3) be true to myself most, if not all, of the time.

Simplify. Prioritize. Clarify.

Those three ideas changed my life.

A few years ago, I took stock of my life from top to bottom and realized that some things had to change. I was happy, healthy, and busy, but craved more passion, meaning, and purpose. Through searching, exploring, and peeling back layers, I discovered that as I found more meaning, I wanted less stuff. Less distraction. Less crap in my way.

And thus began a process, which developed rather organically, but that has since become a lifestyle: Simplify. Prioritize. Clarify.

Simplify.

I started to simplify things. Radically. I filled bag after bag with old clothes, nicknacks and jewelry and took them to Goodwill. I sorted through old papers and fed the recycling bin. I organized and deleted tons of documents, programs, and other unnecessary things from my digital world. Getting rid of things was part of something bigger, but at the time I didn’t understand what it was. I just felt – I knew – that I had to simplify my life. 

Turns out a big part of simplifying was learning to let go. I let go of material things that had nostalgic value, sure, but that I really didn’t need or want anymore. And ultimately I started letting go of bigger things: hobbies, habits, old stories.  The more I let go, the easier it became to see what was important and what was simply… distracting.

Prioritize.

As I created more space (literally and figuratively) in my life, I naturally started to prioritize. It felt good to ask myself brutally honest questions and be surprised by my own answers. I felt lighter, cleaner, and more alert. My mental, emotional, and spiritual bandwidth was given a huge upgrade.

I started making decisions based on what truly felt right, what supported my core values, what was aligned with who I am and what I’m about. I chose in favor of passion and purpose, rather than listening to external factors (or what I was making up about external factors, like what other people think or expect or how they’ll react.) Decision-making became a thrill rather than an ordeal.

Clarify.

The next step was obvious. I wanted clarity. Once you start living your life in a way that is aligned with who you are and what you’re about, it’s impossible to go back. So, I figured my next challenge was to get more and more clear on my values, my passions, and my purpose. This is what I’ve been most focused on for the last couple years and is the main reason I am so goddamn happy all the time!

The great thing about this process is that the more you do it, the more it becomes an unconscious way of living (rather than a conscious process.) Whenever I need to, I simplify by slowing down and letting go of the things, thoughts, and distractions that don’t serve me. Then I prioritize by choosing in favor of passion and purpose and following my heart. And finally, I get even more clear on who I am and what I’m about, which then informs everything I do and how I live my life.