Gratifying - giving pleasure or satisfaction (Merriam-Webster Online)
Gratitude - the state of being grateful: thankfulness (Merriam-Webster Online)
This week I travelled up to Scotland to speak at Glenalmond College, near Perth.
I WAS IN AWE !!
Snowcapped mountains surrounded the little green valley the school sat snuggly in. The trees, still bare from winter, created patches of patterned shade. They revealed the tender shoots of flowers struggling to grow out of the snow hardened soil. The drive, a long pale gravelly thing, snaked it's way through the grounds, before rounding a gentle corner to unveil the majesty of the nearly two hundred year old building that housed the school.
The students were dressed in thick woolen blazers - the boys in black trousers, the girls in long black skirts. Their faces clear, eager, ready to face the future with such hope . . . and longing.
The air was crisp, the sky such a bright, pale blue, people hovering, walking, marching; the school was a hive of activity.
I spoke to the lower sixth-formers; it was a dream, an experience, an engagement with these up-and-coming human beings that I will never forget . . . and I now have confirmation that at least one of them will never forget either.
When I arrived home on Wednesday evening from Scotland, it was to an email from one of the students. Here is an excerpt -
"Your talk was so inspirational and you truly are a marvel and a wonderful human being - your determination and outlook really rang true with me and actually made me stop and think about some situations in my own life and how to tackle them."
This email was gratifying . . . and it made me feel gratitude for being able to make a difference in the world. It has made me see that in giving pleasure, motivation, and inspiration, you actually get these things circled back to you three-fold.
What has been gratifying for you? And what are you feeling gratitude for today?
TED Talks are brilliant - and this is my current favourite. Quick, sharp, to the point, and easy to understand and implement, Richard St.John's 8 Secrets of Success is a fantastic watch!
Keep an eye out on my blog, there will be a Ted Talk favourite to watch every week.
Yes, I have a mentor . . . or two, or three - but one that is actually called, in all official capacity, my mentor. His name is Alan Stevens and I tell you now, he has been a great inspiration to me (and will continue to do so). You see, Alan has been in the business of public speaking for over 20 years, he knows the "ins and outs" and he has no qualms in sharing this knowledge with others. To have a mentor (or two or three) is to acknowledge that you only know what you know, and that to get ahead you have to constantly learn from those that have come before you. Alan has walked the track, knows the pitfalls and the successes and I am lucky that he is willing to share his bucket loads of knowledge with me and others. Do you have a mentor? If not, I highly recommend finding one asap - mentors = knowledge = growth.
So, what does insomnia have to do with mentors? Do mentors cause insomnia?
My mentor has caused me insomnia . . . but in a very, very good way. You see, a few weeks ago I was down in London for a speaking gig that was organised by Alan's lovely wife Heather. It would be the first time that Alan would see me speak and I was very nervous - but this wasn't what caused my insomnia! After I did my talk, Alan drove me back to Kings Cross Station and gave me some much needed feedback - both positive and critical. But he also gave me ideas, ideas on how I could improve my speaking range and one of these ideas has been the cause of my insomnia.
An Ideas Journal . . . an ideas journal has been keeping me awake at nights!! Perhaps it is residual from my swimming days, but I do have a very GOOD habit of visualising what I have to do - in this case speaking. I can be daydreaming, laying in bed, driving???!!! and I will be visualising a talk. How I speak, what I speak about, how the audience will react, how I will adapt to the audience, how I will incorporate "dramatics" (i.e., acting) into my talks. Anyway, since my talk with Alan I have been developing an Ideas journal and in this ideas journal I write down any quotes, snippets of conversations, events that happen, memories, or inspired epiphanies that leap into my thought processes. I seem to have developed a habit of having inspired epiphanies at night, just as I am about to pop off to the land of nod. So there I am, dragging my eyes open, grabbing my pen and paper (or iphone) and scribbling the thought down. Then, the idea that I scribble down triggers other thoughts that have to be recorded, and so on and so forth. Insomnia . . . mentors . . . inspired epiphanies!
This past week has been extremely busy for me, as part of this "busyness" I have had to ensure that I follow three rules of leaving a good impression - timing, courtesy, and attitude.
Timing - Timing means many things, but in the case of this past week it means ensuring you arrive at the correct time, stay the best amount of time, and reiterate that your time was given to a worthy cause in speaking to the school/charity/organisation. It's all about showing your professionalism, your passion, and your desire to help others - through your responsible action of "spending time" on them. People feel appreciated when you give them your time, they feel that you are truly invested in their interests and through taking time you really do want to help them live to their potential.
Timing is important, don't forget that your time is precious and special and to give a huge chunk of it to someone else means you care about them, you care about their time and their goals/desires/intentions.
Courtesy - An easy and obvious one, be polite in your attitude to people. Be friendly, be open, be courteous! Now I can struggle to be open with people, I am a speaker - but that is my professional face; my personal face, my deep inner personality is one of introversion and reservedness (don't die of shock!). I can struggle with opening myself to people, but I don't let this get in the way of being polite and accommodating. Don't let your personality idiosyncrasies get in the way of your relationships with people, remember first impressions can make and break you = always be courteous!
Attitude - I have always had a positive attitude with most things . . . I do have an issue, however, where I wish to please everyone every time. This can sometimes mean a clash of timing, personalities, and the inability to say no. Now, if I follow these three rules that I am laying out here for you then I (and you) shouldn't have any problems, right? Right - as long as you keep your attitude positive! You see, anything can be sorted out to the satisfaction of everyone if one keeps a positive attitude.
Keeping in mind these three rules when interacting with a client (or even a friend or family member) then you can't go wrong really. It's all about treating people how you like to be treated, I mean, you like it when people give up their time for you, are polite, and have a positive attitude, right? Well do the same, and even in the most disastrous of situations you can handle yourself with aplomb.
So in your interactions with fellow peeps remember - Timing + Courtesy + Attitude = the most successful of interactions!
Guess where I went last week? I went to Manchester for a few days for two very good, very interesting reasons. Firstly, I went to Manchester to attend my first ever Professional Speaking Association meeting. Secondly, I went to Manchester to experience something new . . . I attended a Rammstein Concert (never heard of Rammstein? check out one of the their music video clips here)
So, how did my first ever PSA meeting go? Well, I, myself, as a motivational and inspirational speaker, was inspired and motivated myself. I have never felt more like my speaking career is where I am meant to go, what I am meant to do. I gained so much knowledge and encouragement from these fellow speakers. The biggest tip that I "learnt" (because I didn't really learn it, I knew it already, but it was hammered into me as a very important thing to do) is to "ask" people . . . all the time. Ask for work, ask for help, ask for support, ask, ask, ask. Because, to point out the obvious, if you don't ask you won't get. Some of the speakers that actually spoke to us that night included - Paul McGee, Richard Mccann, and Geoff Ramm. What I have learnt from this group of speakers is that we have to collaborate, work together, be a group, and through this mutual support, be successful as indivi
My other reason for going to Manchester was the Rammstein concert. Now, I am trying very hard to open myself to new experiences, because to grow as a person you need to expose yourself to the new, you have to let go of preconceived notions and embrace an open mind in everything that you do. I went to the concert with as open a mind as possible . . . and guess what? I loved it!! It was like theatre, with really hard core rock music. The pyrotechnics were amazing, the music awesome, the band members quite goodlooking (I think I have developed a thing for German men!!). It really was an eye-opening night, and one that emphasized the point of embracing new ideas and new experiences. This can be applied to all aspects of your life.
All in all, my time in Manchester was well spent, successful, and inspirational
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright