What are you tolerating?

People, stuff and the goings-on around us can sometimes work together to sap our energies. We need that daily energy to meet our goals, but once it’s been drained out of us, it’s tough to charge back up again.

What are you putting up with that drains your energy? It’s possible that you aren’t even aware of it yet. One way to tune in what you’re tolerating is to ask yourself a tough question:

What is something you are procrastinating about – something that, once accomplished, would leave you feeling relieved?

Think about your relationships, work, finances, living arrangements and service opportunities. Choose a few, decide what kind of action you can take, then DO something. You’ll be glad you did.


Make the commitment

Stephen’s Trail is a loop of about 8.5 sometimes steep miles on the Massanutten Trail near my home at Hidden Springs.  It includes a climb to Kennedy Peak and the reward of an incredible 360° view. It sounds like a great hike, but it begins with some pretty steep tread. Somewhere in the first couple miles of my hike on Stephen’s Trail, I was wavering about whether I really wanted to do the whole loop. It seemed like slow-going and I wanted to be home by early afternoon.

In that sluggish moment, something clicked in me – something that said to quit wavering and COMMIT to the task. I did, and I’m glad. The decision seemed to unleash a new energy in my legs; I powered my way up to enjoy a gorgeous and memorable panorama. Commitment made all the difference.

When I made up my mind that I was “all in,” I began to truly enjoy the journey. It was a good lesson. Too often, our choices are dictated by the fear that we’ll have to sacrifice or that we’ll get in over our heads. I’m learning to overcome those fears. I like this motivating quote from Napoleon Bonaparte: “If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna.”

Many of the most rewarding commitments I’ve made have been blind leaps: getting married, having children, buying a home, starting a business. In each of these I’ve experienced a mindless moment in which I took the step of commitment. It’s like that moment between jumping off the diving board and entering the cold water. Or the second before I open my mouth to speak in public. Action breaks the paralysis. Things happen if I commit and take some action.

Caffeinate your presentations: third cup!

To give a great presentation, you need to interact with your listeners. Talk with your audience, not at them. Here are a few ways to be a more interactive and engaging speaker:

Smile! A smile is a non-verbal communication device that will connect you to the heart and emotions of your listeners. When you’re speaking, let your smile shine out as you talk. Pause at appropriate points and just smile. Ask a question and let your smile light up your face.

Make eye contact. Not roving scans, but short connections with first one person as you complete one thought, then another person as you begin a new sentence. Combine eye contact with a smile and you have interaction!

One of the best ways to make a smile warm and engaging is to couple it with a lift of the eyebrows or a sideways tip of the head as you catch the eye of one or two folks in the audience. Try it today and watch your listeners. Often you’ll see them begin to smile and raise their eyebrows back at you. It works!

These last several days I’ve shared ways to caffeinate your speeches or presentations. I hope the next time you’re in front of a group, you’ll give these tips a try. Ask more questions, use more gestures, smile and make eye contact. These are all ways to keep your presentations perking like that hot coffee. You’ll capture the attention of your audience and connect with them personally.