Speaker & Public Speaking Coach. I'm one of the public speaking coaches in Central Oregon. If you are looking for help with public speaking and wondering how to find a good public speaking coach, I'm happy to talk with you on the phone. I help people to deliver memorable speeches
Here’s a slide that I created for an Oregon & Washington Meeting Planners conference.
I think it’s interesting to see a list like this but there are so many variables. For example, a Firefighter may be fully in their element in their work. But they may have troubles thinking clearly in the heat of the moment. Using some of the techniques to get blood flowing in their brain may make a big difference.
A Newspaper Reporter may feel off their game and have lack of interest because they are covering home and garden topics when they are passionate about sports. Knowing what fuels their passion for sports may be something like how teams create outcomes that are far greater than individuals and the concept of unity. So as they cover home and garden topics, they could look for ways to incorporate team topics. How One Community Came Together for a Weekend Garden Makeover! Contractor Builds Office Buildings in Half the Time but with Twice the Quality by Applying Team Sports Techniques. This way the reporter can stay engaged and in their A-Game until they find the best job match for their interests.
How can you bring your A-Game to every aspect of your work?
Navigating yourself outside of your comfort zone does not have to be a game of chance. You can masterfully navigate being your best self even when you are stretching yourself.
What is Your A-Game?
Owning your A-Game is the ability to consistently be your best self. The first step is to define what your A-Game is. Examine places where you are in your comfort zone already being your best self. This is you in your element, doing the thing you love, losing all track of time, and being fully immersed. What is the activity you are doing? When you define this, you can then choose to purposefully get into this state anytime, anywhere, and most importantly, use it outside of your comfort zone. (For a more in depth look into this process, go here.)
Assess Your Relationship with Risk
Once you have defined your A-Game and you are ready to take it for a drive outside of your comfort zone, take a look at the different scenarios you have avoided by playing it safe. Where would you like to stretch? On a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being highly risky) rate how risky each scenario is for you. Next, give each scenario a “swimming in the cold pool” test. Are you better off diving right in or by slowly acclimating?
Inchworm – If you need to dip your toe in the pool and slowly acclimate, then you’ll want to be an inchworm as you step into being your best self outside of your comfort zone. Be systematic and break down the mini milestones you’ll need to take. Make sure to celebrate achieving each one!
Frog – If you need to dive right into the pool, go for it! Enjoy the thrill! Celebrate any lessons learned along the way.
And of course you may find yourself being creative. Maybe you want to use a bigger inchworm or smaller frog!
Define your A-Game and use it to stand tall in your confidence as you purposefully stretch yourself inchworm or frog style. Make what used to be out of your comfort zone, in your comfort zone and never stop stretching!
Bobbi, a woman who is a health practitioner, gave Juice Plus to her 2 children who suffered from Lupus. Both of her kids stabilized, built up their stamina, and found much greater daily enjoyment. Bobbi became so passionate about the outcomes that Juice Plus provided that she decided to sell it. But for some reason, everything about being a Juice Plus representative felt awkward. She didn’t know how to feel like herself selling a product. All she wanted to do was to provide the same opportunity for others and she was frustrated that it wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be.
When it comes to network marketing, connection is key. When network marketers are at ease in being authentic and vulnerable, people feel connection with them. Being at ease with authentic and vulnerable communication means you are not only being comfortable with your own character and quirks, but you are willing to let people see your ups and downs.
Why do some people make authentic vulnerable communication look so easy? People who make it look easy can be described as being in their flow state, their genius, or what I like to call their A-Game: the ability to consistently be your best self. These people know how to tap into their A-Game anytime, anywhere: one-on-one, in front of groups, on video, etc.
Why is it elusive for others? For people who find this elusive, there’s nothing wrong with you. In fact, you are in the majority. Three out of four people are inhibited when it comes to public speaking which is what network marketing is – speaking to others.
Define Your A-Game
The quickest way to overcome inhibitions is to define your A-Game. When you define it, you own it. You’ll know how to purposefully tap in anytime, anywhere and you’ll be able to do it with ease.
To define your A-Game, let’s start with you in your comfort zone. You are in your element doing that thing that you love. All of your synapses are firing, all of your resources are at your fingertips and you lose sense of time. This is you being you without any inhibitions. You are in your flow state, your genius, your A-Game.
For example, we all know people who the moment they step into the kitchen, they are in their element. But if you ask them what they are doing, they’ll name different activities.
My friend Layla healed herself with food and now mentors other people to do the same. For Layla, when she’s in the kitchen she’s not “cooking”. It’s the activity of healing and mentoring that taps her into her A-Game.
My friend Lisa loves playing cooking contest games with family and friends. For Lisa, when she’s in the kitchen, she’s connecting with others, creating community, and having fun.
If you ask my Dad, it’s because he pours his love into the food and then feeds it to the people he loves.
Where are you when you are in your element? Is it the kitchen, at work, feeding the homeless, climbing a mountain, a hobby??? Where are you your best self?
The next step is to determine what you are doing when you are in your element.
Some people are connectors, problem solvers, big picture thinkers. There are people who create, people who illuminate, and people who innovate. And then there are people like my husband and son. They simply love being helpful. For Layla it’s healing and mentoring. Lisa is connecting and creating community. My Dad… expressing love.
Are there any words on this list that resonate with you? Do they make you think of other words that describe what you are doing when you are your best self?
I am in my element in many different places: as a violinist, violin teacher, keynote speaker, speaking coach, and I can’t leave out that I was in my element for the 13 years my son let me read out loud to him! While it sounds like these are 5 different arenas, when I defined my A-Game, I realized that I am only doing one thing: I share. It’s the act of sharing that is the common activity that taps me into my flow state in each.
Take the time to zero in on one, two or three words that clearly define how you get into your flow state, your genius, your A-Game. For example, I call it sharing, but someone else might call it giving, showing, or teaching.
Your A-Game in Action
When I was starting my violin career, I had good days and bad days. Sometimes I would be completely uninhibited and free but most of the time my self-consciousness destructively got in my way with heart racing and shaking hands. This was a huge barrier. If I couldn’t display confidence in myself, how could others feel confident in me? How could they connect if I couldn’t be my natural authentic and vulnerable self?
It was out of upset and embarrassment of those bad days that I started closely examining my good days to figure out how to consistently recreate them. This was how I discovered that when I was in the act of sharing, that it guaranteed a good day. When you define your A-Game, you can choose to be in your A-Game anywhere.
Then I decided to test this further. Networking had always been awkward for me. It was something to avoid at all costs. So I decided to get into the act of sharing at networking events. I instantly felt like myself and showed up in my natural confidence, with my character and quirks, and with my ups and downs.
Putting your A-Game in action means that you purposefully choose to get into your A-Game in the different landscapes of your life. It’s the quickest way to shift from being out of your comfort zone to into your comfort zone.
Bobbi heard me deliver a keynote and had defined her A-Game. She got into her flow state when she was working 1-on-1 with her health care patients. When she closely examined the activities that she does as a practitioner, she said that she was listening intently and healing. So she stopped speaking to groups, focused 1-on-1 and used the same listening style with the intention of healing. Once she got the swing of it, she was able to speak in front of groups. Bobbi dropped her inhibitions, got into her A-Game and she sent me an email saying “Now I know which rock I stand on!”
You’re completely immersed and loving it! Not only are you making major progress, but you are in a heightened energy state and rocking your A-Game. Maybe you’re connecting dots, communicating to others in gratifying ways, seeing solutions you hadn’t seen before. At the end of the day you’re happy, satisfied, and inspired.
What was going on in your environment that set the scene for you to have an A-Game day? Did you have quiet uninterrupted time? Did you have an engaging brainstorming session? Was your favorite kind of music playing? Did you run 5 miles in the morning? Go through the details of your day and notice which environmental factors were the biggest contributors for your ability to get into your A-Game.
My husband and I are on a trip to help out our elderly parents. For me, as long as I have my laptop, I can continue to work anytime, anywhere, except when the TV is on. Florida homes tend to have tile floors and hollow doors. Elderly parents in Florida homes tend to have hearing loss so the volume of their TV’s are on 10. The sound of screaming voices on The Price is Right and the drama of the soap operas have been inescapable and yet the presence of my husband and I in their homes is very important for all of us. This environment has made my work difficult, fragmented, and frustrating despite my use of a daily planner and easy to follow checklist. As a result, I found myself living out an internal struggle of honoring the situation and honoring the importance of my work.
What derails you? Noise? Silence? An uncomfortable chair? Food types? Being in the same room all the time? Difficult drive to work? Not being organized? Being too organized? Too many meetings in the morning when you do your best work alone?
What circumstances in your daily life keep you from being in your A-Game? Why are you putting up with it?
We laugh at the rituals of the famous movie actress who has to wash her hair with bottled spring water and spend 30 minutes daily repeating mantras in the mirror. But my career as a violinist relied on daily practice and keeping my body both strong and relaxed. When I retired, I found that keeping my hands moisturized to a specific degree wasn’t as important anymore and fully realized how much hand moisturizing had become part of my environment to do my best!
Maybe you know exactly what kind of environment supports getting you into your A-Game. Maybe you need to experiment, tweak and refine your environment. Whatever the case, it’s time for you to take a stand for your own standards and be the leader in creating the best environment for you to flourish.
After a week of trial and error and internally standing up for my own standard of work as we help our families out, I finally discovered that if I listen to meditation music with my earbuds on I’m a powerhouse!
Striving for peak performance is a way of life. How can you become a powerhouse right now?
8% of the population achieves their resolutions. To help you achieve yours, use the Unleash Your A-Game chart. When it’s time to act on your resolutions assess where you are on the chart. Then do what it takes to move the needle towards absence of fear and being fully present.
Paralysis – Use Your Body
I don’t have fear of heights, except one time when I was on the Hunt Spur near the top of climbing Mt. Katahdin in Maine. I was paralyzed! My friends were cheering me on but I was so stuck, their words were of no help.
The reason why my friends couldn’t talk me through my paralysis is because when you are this stuck, mind over body doesn’t work. This is a body over mind solution. Paralysis means that you are in a full on freeze response. When our stress response is triggered the hormones released into our bloodstream remain in the bloodstream! That means they will perpetuate your paralysis as well as accumulate in your bloodstream.
The only way to release the hormones and any unwanted physical symptoms such as paralysis, brain freeze, sweat, or butterflies, is to replicate some sort of fight, flight, or thawing out. That may look like a vigorous set of jumping jacks, leaving a situation and collecting yourself, or relaxing.
If it’s time to act on your resolutions and you’ve been paralyzed before, then get ahead of the game and prepare with body movement. If you get stuck or frozen along the way, don’t mentally beat yourself up and certainly don’t give up. Have compassion, use your body and move through it.
On Mt. Katahdin I turned to my breath. Shallow at first, I tried sipping in a little more air with each breath. Once I got to deep abdominal breathing I easily finished the climb.
Courage – Feel the Fear and Do It Anyways – Navigate the Aftermath – Increase Preparation
Our culture applauds courage but nobody talks about the aftermath of courage. Mastery in the aftermath is the critical step. Aftermath can be broken down into 3 scenarios:
1. That went better than I thought! In this scenario confidence is gained and you’re encouraged.
2. I did okay. In this scenario, confidence may or may not be gained. You may or may not be inspired to continue.
3. That was horrible! In this scenario confidence is lost and decisions to stop trying are made.
If you’ve used courage to achieve one of your resolutions and your aftermath leaves you scratching your head, increase everything! Increase using your body to relieve the stress hormones and increase your preparation that relates directly with the resolution. Have compassion, feel the fear and do it anyways and assess the aftermath all over again.
As a highly trained violinist taking auditions, I used courage over and over again expecting a different result. The more I used courage, the worse I did at my auditions and retreated to Plan B. It wasn’t until I mastered my preparation and I massaged my Achilles Tendon 4 times per day that I was able to move beyond courage and get into a state of boldness! (The Achilles tightens automatically as a result of a triggered stress response. Keeping it relaxed had made it possible for me to keep my cool during high stress.)
Successfully navigating through the 3 aftermath scenarios can make or break your ability to achieve your New Year’s resolution.
Boldness – In the Face of Risk, Fearless Action – Assess Presence of Mind – Worst Case Scenarios List
My son, a rafting guide, was sucked under an 8 foot waterfall that delivers 2000 lbs. of water per second. After 30 or so seconds he popped up in the pocket of air trapped underneath the overturned raft. He had enough time for a giant gulp of air before he got sucked down again where he bumped into a rock, felt intense vibrations all around him in the water and then popped up safely downstream.
I asked if he knew what went wrong. He was articulate. He didn’t optimally balance the placement of people in the boat and he wasn’t far enough over to the right during the approach. While he was in the water, he could describe exactly what was occurring which is why I could write about it myself. Once in the water, he was in reaction mode. When it was all said and done, thanks to the safety strap, he surfaced with his sunglasses on.
If you look at the Unleash Your A-Game chart you’ll see the arrow that goes from sensory shutdown to being fully present. The reason why I asked my son if he knew what went wrong was because I was assessing how present he was in the moment of high risk. While many of us would go into emotional amnesia in this situation, it was clear that in the face of risk, because of his presence of mind he was able to be in fearless action. He took one day to physically rest and happily finished out the season as a river raft guide.
While my son was clearly in a risky situation, most of us perceive risk. How can you remove risk so that you can increase your presence of mind and be fully functional? Write down in exquisite detail all of the worst case scenarios that you can think of while achieving your resolution. Once you bring them to light, you’ll know how to work through them or be able to dismiss them immediately. Remove the risk and gain presence of mind.
Absence of Fear – Turn your Nervous Energy into Excitement – Personal Best
“Turn your nervous energy into excitement” is one of those statements we hear all the time but we seldom hear how to do it.
Moving through paralysis, courage and into a state of boldness is a journey of removing the unwanted effects of our fight or flight response which poses as trying to keep us safe. But no matter what, adrenaline happens. In a state of absence of fear, an adrenaline response can now support you.
Kathy had the opportunity to pitch her startup at an Angel Conference. You could say that her goal was to get her startup funded. But the purpose of her startup is to bring creativity and joy into people’s lives. When she purposefully focused on bringing creativity and joy during her pitch in front of a large audience, she was able to use that to fuel her nervous energy and turn it into excitement. Afterwards, people complimented her specifically by saying “hearing you speak was a joy”! For Kathy, this was the first time she had a personal best speaking in front of an audience and now she’s hungry for more!
Mastery over your New Year’s Resolutions isn’t just that you’ve checked them off your list, but that you achieved a personal best doing it. Paralysis doesn’t have to stop you dead in your tracks when you know how to use your body over your mind. Navigating courage broken down by how to deal with the aftermath is critical to keep you moving through the Unleash Your A-Game chart. By the time you are able to employ fearless action, even when you perceive things as risky, you can do what it takes to change your perceptions and step into complete absence of fear. And for that personal best moment, direct your adrenaline into turning your nervous energy into excitement by focusing on the purpose that inspires you the most!
As a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music in 1987 I felt invincible! I had not only learned how to live in NYC unscathed, but I had just received top notch, world class violin training.
My next step was to audition for orchestras, a violinist’s version of job interviews. I would show up feeling invincible but in the moment it took to lift the violin bow to the strings… invincible would melt into vulnerable.
Showing my high skill level under pressure was the missing success skill.
Determined, I studied everything I could find about the fight or flight response. I read about the inner game of sports and I put those lucky A-Game moments under a microscope. After 10 years of trial and error I went from non-functional during auditions to becoming the lead violinist of an orchestra.
(In case you don’t know, the concertmaster of an orchestra is second in command, a public figure for the orchestra, and the first domino in a long line of standing dominoes. I was expected to be in my A-Game or else face a negative ripple effect throughout the orchestra.)
As I honed my own peak performance skills, I developed a system for others to discover their own personalized path for consistent excellence so that they could enjoy daily peak performance.
Increased Employee Engagement – Getting into your A-Game is a personal matter. Nobody can force you. Circumstances can’t dictate. Defining your A-Game is a personal inquiry into what gets you into your A-Game and it’s always something that is important and meaningful for you. Once defined, people can purposefully choose to either go through the motions of their day – or – engage in something that is important and meaningful. If you had a choice between being a drone or feeling personally connected, what would you pick?
Increased Results – Self-actualization is top of the list of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. When people overcome their personal barriers to success, and they can see their performance gap close before their very eyes, like the moth to the streetlight, they can’t help themselves! Peak performance breeds more peak performance.
Increased Influence – You know how awe inspiring it is to watch an Olympian perform a personal best? How about a rock n’ roll guitarist ripping it up? Don’t you agree that watching other people in their A-Game brings something out within you? Here’s the good news. When you are completely immersed in your A-Game, whether you are trying to or not, people will perceive you as passionate and acting in confidence. According to Stanford researchers who study human decision making and how to be influential, these are the exact words they use to describe influence:
“Passion is persuasive and confidence is contagious.”
Therefore, when people witness you in your A-Game, like the Olympian or guitarist, you will be awe inspiring and influential.
My journey into gaining mastery in peak performance started out by being in survival mode. As concertmaster, I taught hundreds of people how to play the violin. Think about all those kiddos having to perform at their violin recitals… I knew that my students absolutely had to succeed because a performance fail in front of peers, family and friends can ruin someone’s life!
Fulfilling on your potential is not only deeply rewarding, but it increases your engagement, results and influence.
Sitting in the audience at the #BendTECHunConference2017Pitchfest, listening to 18 pitches, one gentleman had a debilitating case of nerves, and he never rallied. He couldn’t remember anything he had planned to say. His innovative idea that solves a huge problem stayed inside of him.
Isn’t that sad?
What triggered his paralysis? Was it that he never used a microphone before? Was it because over 100 people were looking at him? Was it because he knew that people would be voting for the prize winner which in essence meant they would be judging his idea?
While this gentleman had an extreme reaction, we all react to some degree because we are wired to.
Are you a storehouse of unshared ideas as a result?
Do you think it’s easier to keep your ideas to yourself?
Think about the times you didn’t share your thoughts. Were you in a meeting? Were you at school? Were you with family? Do you see any patterns of avoidance?
If you thought it was sad that the gentleman at the pitchfest left without sharing his idea, can you see that for yourself?
Your ideas matter.
I want you to honor yourself and share your ideas. I want you to stand tall in confidence because you choose to have mastery over your stress response. I want you strive for peak performance in your daily life as a path to fulfill on your potential.
The first step is simply to become aware. Are you staying in your comfort zone? Is everything you want on the other side of your comfort zone? Are you ready to expand your comfort zone and learn how to masterfully navigate outside of your comfort zone?