“Good better best.
Never let it rest.
Til the good is better.
And the better best.”
Good Better Best
Growth is one of my values, so I know that in order to be happy, I need to be learning something new or getting better at something I already do. This month I have been completely focused on getting better at presenting. Speaking from the stage to empower and inspire is one of the things I do for a living, and if my testimonials are to be believed, I do it pretty well. But that’s not enough for me. I want to get better. I want to be the best presenter I can be and I’ve made it a priority this month to make time – notice I didn’t say find time – to make time in my schedule for developing my skills and improving my art.
What I love love love about working to get better at something you love doing, are all the additional benefits this brings. I’m not just getting better at public speaking. I’m feeling more alive because I’m challenging my brain; I’m feeling empowered because by forcing myself to allocate time in my schedule (even just 10 minutes at bedtime) I’m taking control of my life. And I’m feeling excited about my life because I’m committing time to something I am passionate about. If you like the sound of those feelings, my question to you this month is:
If you could become the best at one thing, what would it be?
And my call to action for you:
What one thing will you commit to doing next month, so you feel more alive, empowered and excited about your life?
In pursuit of mastery
So here’s what I’ve been up to this month in my pursuit of presenting mastery:
- Attended an all day masterclass at Drury Lane Theatre with Jeremy Nicholas. This was a fantastic day where Jeremy shared his wisdom from his Talking Toolbox. If you are interested in becoming a better speaker, you could do a lot worse than sign up to Jeremy Nicholas’ often funny and always useful newsletter (sign up at www.jeremynicholas.co.uk). Here’s a picture of us on our lunch break enjoying the view from the Royal box.
- Read 3 newsletters from professional speakers Jeremy Nicholas, Alan Stevens and Celia Delaney to whose brilliance I aspire;
- Attended the London meeting of the Professional Speakers Association, all day energy fest for professional speakers who want to speak more and speak better.
- Read and made notes on the book by Carmine Gallo, Talk Like Ted
- Bought the book “The Presenting Secrets of Steve Jobs” also by Carmine Gallo to read next
- Wrote a blog about The Gladiator Speech, a powerful tool I created for anyone suffering from imposter syndrome or self doubt, and which is a key part of my talk on Imposter Syndrome.
- Wrote proposals for 2 big corporate clients who are interested in my talks on work life balance and imposter syndrome.
So much that’s interesting about the above list of actions I took this month. But what strikes me is how much I managed to fit into my schedule in pursuit of this goal. From this I’ve learned the importance of 3 things:
- Being passionate about whatever it is you are trying to improve
- Being part of a community of people who inspire you to improve
- Putting yourself out there, getting better by doing
If there is something you want to get better at (and if you want to reach your potential and feel truly alive, there should be), then here’s a formula for getting better at what you love:
1. Be passionate:
Find something you are passionate about, and make a commitment to getting better at it by setting yourself clearly defined goals against which you can measure (and reward) your progress.
Example: My goals for speaking mastery are very specific:
- Develop a brilliant effective powerful process for turning my ideas into powerful engaging inspiring memorable talks
- Develop an efficient process for preparing for my speaking engagements (one that does not involve a sleepless night the night before)
- Double my number of paid speaking gigs in 12 months
- Develop and improve my existing talks so that they are more powerful and engaging than before
- Speak to an audience of 500 people or more
2. Be inspired:
Take inspiration from others. Learning and growing is so much more fun and also easier when we are inspired and motivated by others who are either ahead of us, on the same journey as us or both. As I learned from Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit” which I featured in last month’s newsletter, there’s research to prove it. According to a 1994 Harvard Study which examined people who had changed their lives, while some people changed their lives after a person tragedy, just as frequently people changed because they were part of a social group that made change easier.
My experience certainly backs this up. Attending events like the Jeremy Nicholas Masterclass, and through being a member of the Professional Speaker’s Association not only show me how I can get better, it also motivates and inspires me to get better. Here is a picture of me with Sharon Amesu who had just delivered her award winning speech on the power of words.
3. Make it accessible:
How do you like to consume your information? Do you read books? Or are podcasts and radio your thing? Or perhaps you’d rather watch a video? It doesn’t matter what your preference is, just choose the one that you find the most accessible, digestible and portable. Anything goes, so long as you can carry it with you – and the beauty of modern tech. means you can have access to all of the above wherever you are and at any time via your phone. This mean it’s super easy to fit your learning into your schedule. Before you know it you’ll see 10, 20, 30 minute windows opening up in your day for finishing your book or starting a podcast. If you’re not careful you might even find yourself foregoing the TV or going up to bed 10 minutes earlier just to fit it in!
4. Learn by doing
Of course reading and listening and watching will only get you so far. The real learning happens when you get out there, see what you can do, make mistakes, learn from them, and come back and do it again, only better. If like me, it’s presenting mastery you are seeking, then get out there and book yourself some talks – paid or free, whatever you feel comfortable with. If you want to become an expert cellist, linguist or artist, book yourself in to do an exam or to perform infront of an audience. Learning how to do something is just the first step. True mastery, comes from doing and experiencing the real thing.
5. Stick to one thing
Choose just one thing you want to be good at, and stick to it. Try at least a month, but if you’re on a roll, keep going for as long as it takes for you to start reaching those tangible goals we talked about. Make that your single focus. Don’t confuse or clutter or overwhelm yourself by trying to improve several things at once. Give your skill the attention and focus it deserves. You’ll make more progress by focusing on your one thing than you will if you try to get better and several things at once.
Feeling inspired to get better at something you are passionate about? Share it with me!