Dealing With Dueling Dualities

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The holiday season is full of dueling dualities that can often prove confusing. For example, you can feel both exhilarated by the hustle and bustle of shopping and socializing, and overwhelmed by it at the same time. Or you can feel both grateful for the friends and family that surround you, and wistful for times past shared with folks no longer on this earthly plane. Dualities are a certainly part of the two things I am most passionate about: Deepening and widening your presence on this planet by fulfilling your passionate purpose; and using your words to change the world …

Beware the Comparison Trap

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As a young actress, I was ridiculously envious of another young actress I’ll call Madeline. Madeline was short, cute and perky. And she seemed to be having the acting career—and thus the life– I wanted (Starring roles in Broadway Plays! Lead roles in interesting, prestigious films! The acclaim and adoration of A-list agents, producers, directors and colleagues!) I wanted to be Madeline. For a brief time (and I’m embarrassed to admit this) I even tried to dress, walk and talk like Madeline—you can imagine how well that worked out. Madeline was, of course, completely unaware that I was I constantly …

Make the Most of Your Microphone

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The first time I stepped up to a microphone, I was eleven years old. I had bravely signed up to sing a song called Froggy Went a Courtin’ all by myself in the talent show at summer camp. The microphone loomed like a leggy, silver bug, and as I stepped up to it I felt very, very small–until I sang my first note into its shiny face. I couldn’t have been more surprised–or more thrilled–at how very, very big my voice sounded as it bounded out of the loudspeakers. Ever since, I’ve had a deep respect and appreciation for microphones. …

Feeling Blue? Blah? Take Action!

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We all have days when we’re broadsided by Fear, which masquerades as the Blues and the Blahs. Days when the last thing we feel like doing is leaping out of bed and conquering the world. When hiding in the basement with a pint of chocolate Haagen Daz ice cream seems like the most manageable option in an unmanageable world. And we lie there, eyes resolutely shut, twisted in the sheets, thinking about all those people relying on us to eschew our blues and get a move on: Bosses. Children. Employees. We have obligations, darn it all. And somehow, impossible as …

From Chaos Comes Clarity

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Whenever I launch into creating a keynote presentation, my office temporarily turns chaotic: Notes, scribbled on pieces of paper toweling or crumpled bank deposit slips, skitter across my desk; drafts of previous keynote presentations flicker on my dual computer screens; folders of additional notes, taken while assessing my client’s needs, explode across my computer keyboard; my acoustic guitar leans against my desk, within grabbing distance; and piles of papers that were important yesterday, are suddenly irrelevant, crowded to the corners by my latest obsession. This chaotic abandon is what my husband calls “My Process.” I go through it each time …

To Be What You Want To Be, Do What You Want To Be

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“I really want to be a better public speaker,” she said. “I want to be a more confident, more relaxed and more engaging when I speak to groups.” “Well,” I asked, “How often do you speak to groups?” “Hardly ever,” she replied, shrugging. “I tend to avoid public speaking like the plague.” “That’s going to have to change,” I said. “ To be a better speaker, you’re going to have to speak publicly—as often as you possibly can.” I’ve had variations of the above conversation too many times people who approach me for presentation skills coaching. They talk a mean …

When You Feel Exposed, Find Your Center: A Public Speaking Tip

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Sitting in the chair facing me, delivering her assigned presentation, my coaching client was relaxed and confident. Then I asked her to stand up and deliver her presentation from the little wooden stage in the corner of my office, lit by a bank of floodlights. “OH my GOD!” she breathed, “I am suddenly so nervous!”Standing in front of me, presentation in her hand, she fidgeted and stammered, her body stiff and awkward. The more I watched her in silence, the more she squirmed. “Why,” she squealed, “is it so much harder when I have to present standing up than when …

Navigate the No’s by Pleasing Yourself

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“Oh please like me! Oh please cast me!” These were the thoughts most often whirling in my head when, as young actress in New York, I stepped in front of the directors, producers and casting directors auditioning me for roles in theatrical shows I longed to win. “Oh please like me! Oh please cast me!” The word “please” is the operative word in those sentences. As in “Please let me please you” or “I will do anything in my power to please you, to win your approval, even if it kills me.” Without exception, when I led out with pleasing …

Trust the Tingles. Trust the Churn.

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Multiple award-winning actress, Cicely Tyson (Roots; Sounder;The Autobiography of Miss Jane PIttman) has a very simple way of determining whether a script is right or not. If her skin tingles when she reads it, she knows it's something she's meant to do. If, however, her stomach churns, she knows the script is not for her. Either her skin tingles or her stomach churns, one or the other. And she always goes with what makes her skin tingle. We've all been there, at the cusp of choice: Do I go left or right? Do I take this job or not? Do …

Banish Uptalk and Project More Confidence (With Audio Demo)

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Remember“Valley Girl Talk?” No? Well, it’s like, when you speak? And your phrases and sentences, like, end with a rising sound? Like you’re asking a question? Even if you’re actually only making a statement? Just like I’ve been doing for the past six sentences (including this one)? Yep, that’s Valley Girl Talk, otherwise known as uptalk or upspeak. And it’s getting more and more prevalent. In my coaching practice, I hear uptalkall the time. And not just from women, by the way. But from men. More and more, men, actually. In fact, according to an according to a recently study …

Resist Resistance

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First comes the dream. Then comes resistance. So says Steven Pressfield, author of one of my all-time favorite books, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks, and Win Your Inner Creative Battles You know how it is: You have a great idea, an idea so brilliant, so powerful that it slaps you wide awake in the middle of the night. Perhaps it’s an idea for a creative project—a book, a piece of art, a new app. Perhaps it’s a dream or goal that utilizes your special gifts or taps a deep longing—becoming an actor, starting a new business, learning …

Make This Moment Matter

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On Friday afternoon, I received a piece of mail that punched me in the gut: John, the husband of my best friend from high school, Laurie McDonald, had written to tell me that she had died unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism. I must have reread the letter three times, because the words just wouldn’t sink in. Laurie had been, after all, only 56, and it seemed, in excellent health. One minute she was alive. And the next minute she wasn’t. Laurie leaves behind two children, a daughter on the cusp of her Freshman year of college, and a son only …

To Get Great, Self Evaluate! 5 Post-Presentation Questions

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According to an article written by Aaron Gell in Marie Claire magazine—Hollywood actress, Jennifer Lawrence, has always been affected by what she perceives as the judgment of others. In high school, she never felt good enough or cool enough in relation to the rest of the kids, which caused a lot of stress that resulted in abdominal pains. And now that she’s a famous actress, and fodder for the tabloids and media, she is hyper conscious of how many millions of people are looking at her and potentially judging her, which stresses her out even more. This, despite the fact …

Commit to Your Gift

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Kurt Elling, a Grammy winning, cutting edge jazz singer and composer with one of the most astounding voices around, shrugged and said “I sing pretty good, and I give my life to it.” Christine Ebersole, singer, actress and SLN alumna divulged that she could sing on pitch at the age of three. “That’s my gift,” she explained, “the gold, frankincense and myrrh that I received.” And she has honored her gift by committing her life to it. Arturo Sandoval, a world re-known multi-instrumentalist, composer, vocalist, committed for decades to developing and sharing the song in him, said “Be in love …

Every Woman is a Mother

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Until I met my husband, Jim, and became the step-mother to two teen-age boys, the world officially viewed me as a non-mother—which excluded me from the Hallmark moments associated with Mother’s Day: Mother’s Day brunch, Mother’s Day Cards, Mother’s Day gifts, etc. But I never saw myself that way. For one thing, I’ve Mommied every living thing within hugging distance – puppies, cats, bugs, people—since I could toddle and stretch out my arms. For another thing, while I may not have birthed any flesh and blood k ids, I’ve birthed a few items of significance I’m deeply proud of: A …

To Move Forward, Let Go

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I'd been fixated on being a Famous Broadway Actress for years. In spite of a continuous barrage of “No's!” and “You're too tall for the part,” I doggedly held on to my dream of being tapped to star in the the next Broadway hit. I held on so hard to this dream– even after it stopped being the right dream for me– that it just about killed me. It wasn't until I started to pay greater attention to what I call my Inner Wisdom System– the trusty, inner guidance that points me to what is deeply, truly right for me– …

It’s OK to Let Go

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As a recovering control freak, I admit that one of the toughest lessons I’ve had to learn (and relearn again and again) is that it’s ok to let go. As I documented in my book, Touch the Sky: Find Your Voice, Speak Your Truth, Make Your Mark, when I started out as an actress I wanted to control everything: The shape, feeling and flow of the acting scene I was working on in class or in a play; the words and actions of my scene partners; the circumstances surrounding every audition; and especially the outcome of my budding acting career. …

Return to Your Heart

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“And every day the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And each day, it's up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say “No, this is what's important.” –Iain Thomas Bombarded by stressors, pulled this way and that, we are continuously pulled off center, away from the feeling depth of our beating heart. Detached from our emotions and our exquisite vulnerability, we are like a balloon that is let go to the winds, yanked willy-nilly by the …