Mindfulness. It’s excellent to be able to observe yourself in the present moment. Or, be aware of the thoughts and sensations that pass through your flesh and bones, as they happen.
Self-awareness is simply a must if you want to change bad habits and thought patterns.
For instance, maybe you notice you’re being a lazy asshole when it’s workout time and you begin making excuses for why today’s not a good day to go to the gym.
“It’s raining,” you say. Or, “I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, I’ll start fresh tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.” Perhaps you decided you weren’t going to be drinking anymore Pumpkin Spice Frappuccinos from Starbucks, yet you justify it with “just one more…and then I’ll cut ‘em out starting next week.” (FYI: I’ll never stop!)
Well, to observe yourself would be to recognize that you’re doing just that, that you’re a lying, excuse making, perfectly human, specimen—just like the rest of us.
The point is, or the goal is, ideally, to catch those thoughts/feelings as they occur and shut them down—quickly.
Okay, let’s say that you perfect this tremendous skill. As helpful a skill as it can be, there is a time when it can be a BAD idea.
Imagine you’re giving a talk and mid-sentence your awareness scanner kicks in and starts scrutinizing your every thought and movement.
All of a sudden you notice that you’re fiddling with your shirt or doing some other nervous mannerism that you know you shouldn’t be doing (or that takes away from your credibility piggy bank). Instantly your mind fixates on that and you try to stop, or perhaps quickly reposition your hands at your sides. Then you think, “did anyone notice that?” Now you’re allocating over 63.9% of your mind powers (I made that figure up) to that silliness…
Then comes some real trouble: “What was I going to say?”
You completely forget what you were rambling about and you’re mind decides to take an unpaid vacation. Now you’re standing there saying to the crowd, “Now where was I?” or worse, FREEZE up completely! That’s a bad situation. No one wants to forget and in fact, this is a very big fear for speakers—the fear of forgetting. Dorothy used to sing this before she’d speak on camera: Lions and tigers and forgetting, oh my! (terrible joke)
Seriously though, this was a gigantic fear of mine when I started speaking. I mean HUGE. And sure enough, it has bitten me in the ass before. Probably because it was dominating my thoughts pre-speech. [I describe the whole experience in my book that’ll be released later this year. It’s FREE if you sign up pre-release, just throwin’ that out there 🙂 ]
And if you manage not to forget what you were going to say, there will certainly be a disconnect from what you’re saying and what you’re thinking. It may come off as insincere. It may just come off as awkward. The audience will notice, either consciously or subconsciously.
What to do: Try to slow down this self-conscious thought machine. Let the thoughts go on their merry way. Don’t engage them. The more you focus on crud (ya, I said crud), the less capacity you’ll have to focus on your message and your connection with the audience.
Sure. Reflect back on your presentation as soon as possible. You could (should) even record it for your viewing pleasure at a later time. But during? No.
So now you know! Don’t let your brain get hung up on the minutia during your presentation or bad things will happen. Be present, yes. Be focused, too. But focus on your message and the audience’s take home—not on yourself.
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