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 …

Ideas Rule, Your Words Matter

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Once in a while I feel compelled to climb up onto a soapbox and speak my piece. So, here goes: The reason to honor my Fourth Commandment of Great Acting, Great Speaking and Great Leadership, Turn Thyself On So You can Turn Others On, is because your message is important! Your audience deeply needs to hear it, whatever it may be. And it order for them to hear it, you have to be able to convey it with enthusiasm and conviction. In this information age, whe re ideas rule, your ability to communicate ideas succinctly, memorably and effectively will determine …

10 Ways to Capture (and Keep) Your Audience

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I once observed an esteemed surgeon deliver the keynote address to an audience of medical practitioners at a yearly conference. He spent forty-five minutes bludgeoning audience members to death with the driest, most data-and-graph-laden Power Point presentation I have ever seen, in a voice that droned like a bumblebee. By the time he was done, the audience looked like this: The kicker came when I later overheard the doctor complain about how inattentive the audience had been. It was all I could do to refrain from sharing with him the one truth I’ve learned from performing in front of countless …

Monday Morning Musing: Dare to Accept Yourself

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“The Most Terrifying Thing is to accept oneself completely.” –Carl Jung. As I chronicled in my book, Touch the Sky: Find Your Voice, Speak Your Truth, Make Your Mark, I struggled for years to reclaim and embrace who I really was. Like many people, and women in particular, I was a people pleaser, willing to ignore my needs, my longings and my unique gifts in order to satisfy the needs, beliefs and will of others. And frankly, it almost killed me. What turned me around was my willingness to face a series of sobering truths about myself. 1. Nobody was …

Stuck in Fear? Get Back to the Basics

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When her husband left her out of the blue, with two infants to raise and very little financial support, [my friend and BlueSkyCoaching client] Betsy instantly turned from stay-at-home mom to car salesperson. It was 1984, and Betsy was one of the first women selling cars on her lot (or on any lot, for that matter). Within six months, she had broken the corporate record for gross profit in monthly sales. “For a while, I was on top of the world,” Betsy recounts. “I was selling lots of cars, paying my bills, and was even recognized at the Christmas party. …

Keynote Creation, Part 2: Creating a Presentation Blueprint

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This is part two of my Keynote Creation series focusing on how I put together, rehearse and deliver a Touch the Sky keynote presentation for an upcoming conference.Part one focused on putting together what I call a Presentation Production Schedule. Part two focuses on hammering out the blueprint or outline of the presentation. Please note that my Fishbone Formula applies not only to Keynotes, but to presentations in general. It's my hope that giving you a glimpse into how I approach the creation of my own presentations can help you approach yours with greater focus and confidence. My presentation skills …

What Dogs Can Teach Us About Public Speaking– Guest Blog

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By Harper West I’m pleased to guest blog for Eleni Kelakos who has been instrumental in helping me improve my public speaking ability. Some wisdom from the dog world from my book “Pack Leader Psychology,” might have some relevance to anyone who suffers from fear of public speaking. Ask most dog owners why they like dogs and they often say it’s because a dog gives them unconditional love. One of the reasons we find dogs so appealing is that they don’t judge us and they also don’t judge themselves. Our love of the accepting nature of dogs isn’t surprising because …

When You’re Stuck, Stopped and Stalled:The Perils of Limbo

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Many people choose to live their lives like they dance the Hokey Pokey—with one foot in and one foot out. On one hand they’re yearning to make a change, a difference, an impact, or a stand. On the other hand, they refrain from taking the focused action that could bring their dreams, desires, and needs to fulfillment. Loathe to commit to one thing or another, they choose not to choose, and so they choose a kind of limbo by default. This is especially true of women, who, according to a study by Anna Fels in the Harvard Review, tend to …

Keynote Creation, Part 1: Master Your Production Schedule

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Over the next month, I’m going to be putting together a 50-minute Touch the Sky keynote presentation for a professional conference scheduled for October 3rd. I thought it might be interesting and helpful for you to get a glimpse into my presentation preparation process, including the production schedule I put together to help me create and thoroughly rehearse this presentation. Through a series of articles, I’ll give you an intimate view of my own process, including whatever struggles I face as I both honor my production schedule and juggle my very full calendar of coaching and training. Below is the …

Boost Your Business Through Public Speaking

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As a public speaking coach, consultant and trainer, I am passionate about helping business owners overcome performance anxiety and deliver impactful speeches to groups both large and small. I believe in the power of well-chosen, well-delivered words to move others into thinking, feeling and action. And there’s nothing I like better than working with visionary leaders who want to use their words to change their world. Take Rom LaPointe, the president of i3Logic (www.i3Logic.net), a company that provides learning programs that enhance skills, reinforce change initiatives and allow learners to build their confidence so they can perform successfully. Rom was …

On Bees and Leadership

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I was three years old, playing outside on a hot summer’s day, when I looked down and saw a fuzzy little black and white heap on the sidewalk… about the size of a quarter. I knew right away what it was. “Bee! Bee!” I said. Then I poked it with my fat little index finger. And that is when I got stung. And that is also when I became bee-phobic. And wasp phobic. And yellow-jacket phobic. For years afterwards, I ran screaming in the other direction anytime anything black and yellow with wings and a stinger flew at me or …