BooksChangeReflectionNovember 22, 20154Keep Being Bad First…

A cou­ple of weeks ago, I had the chance to be a part of a real­ly pro­found learn­ing expe­ri­ence. I was one of eight atten­dees at an Elite Group Expe­ri­ence — a two-day advanced speak­ing skills course with Vic­to­ria Labalme.

Even though I’ve done a great deal of speak­ing in front of groups over the past thir­ty years, and believe I’m good at it (and have got­ten feed­back that sup­ports that belief), I decid­ed this year to take my skills to the next lev­el. I intend to do every­thing in my pow­er to become a world-class speaker.

Vic­to­ria is a won­der­ful teacher, and my class­mates — entre­pre­neurs, authors, and busi­ness own­ers — were with­out excep­tion smart, focused and sup­port­ive.  The coolest thing for me, though, was see­ing how well the ANEW skills I pro­pose as being key to new learn­ing served me in this sit­u­a­tion, even though I’m not a novice.  Here’s how it worked:

Aspi­ra­tion -  Before I attend­ed the course, I worked on  increas­ing my aspi­ra­tion — mak­ing myself want to improve my speak­ing skills.  It’s chal­leng­ing to raise your lev­el of aspi­ra­tion when you’re already good at some­thing: it’s all too easy to think that you’re good enough, thank you very much.  So I thought about the ben­e­fits to me of becom­ing a bet­ter speak­er. First, we at Pro­teus have more impor­tant things to share than ever — and I love being able to share it. Also, I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly con­vinced that the ideas and skills in my new book, Be Bad First, will be help­ful to peo­ple if I have a big­ger plat­form for shar­ing them.  I can eas­i­ly imag­ine a future where being a bet­ter speak­er would make that possible.

Neu­tral Self-aware­ness - I spent some time before the class reflect­ing on my strengths and weak­ness­es as a speak­er. Some of the pre-work Vic­to­ria had us do sup­port­ed me in that effort. I want­ed to be as accu­rate as pos­si­ble going into the ses­sion, so that I could take full advan­tage of the learn­ing being offered, and I found my “cur­rent state” insights very help­ful. (If you’re curi­ous, I decid­ed that my strengths were clar­i­ty, authen­tic­i­ty, and con­nec­tion with the audi­ence, and that I need­ed to work on hav­ing more con­trol over my pac­ing and vol­ume, mak­ing bet­ter use of the stage, and explor­ing new options to three-dimen­sion­al­ize my speak­ing — visu­als, sound, online sup­port, etc..)

End­less Curios­i­ty - This one was the eas­i­est; I did­n’t real­ly have to  do much to ramp up my curios­i­ty.  Very for­tu­nate­ly for me, being curi­ous is my nat­ur­al state, and I found myself, dur­ing the ses­sion, con­tin­u­ous­ly inter­est­ed in under­stand­ing and mas­ter­ing what Vic­to­ria was shar­ing with us. Over the two days of the class, I watched myself ask lots of Why?, How?, and I won­der? ques­tions. And saw, yet again, how curios­i­ty is jet fuel for learn­ing. Every time I asked one of those ques­tions of Vic­to­ria or one of my class­mates, I found out some­thing new or some­thing more that would help me improve my skills.

Will­ing­ness To Be Bad First - This one was def­i­nite­ly the hardest…but the most reward­ing. It’s dif­fi­cult enough to con­vince your­self it’s OK to “be bad” when you’re actu­al­ly new to some­thing.  But when you’re quite good at doing some­thing already, there’s a strong momen­tum toward con­sid­er­ing your­self an expert.  I found the most valu­able and real­is­tic “accep­tance of not-good” self-talk in this sit­u­a­tion was, I still have a lot to learn, if I want to be a world class speak­er. I need to be open to every­thing I  hear.  As a result, I was able to hear impor­tant feed­back from Vic­to­ria and from my class­mates that I might have oth­er­wise dis­missed.  For exam­ple, in one prac­tice, my part­ner point­ed out to me that I was skim­ming over the uncom­fort­able part of the sto­ry I was telling — and he not­ed that “with­out the lows, the highs don’t feel like highs.” Because I was real­ly lis­ten­ing and tak­ing it in, I real­ized he was exact­ly right…and that it was some­thing I do habit­u­al­ly.  I was able to inte­grate the feed­back, and it had a real impact.

My hus­band once asked me “Are peo­ple ever done being bad?”  And now I can def­i­nite­ly say: No, for­tu­nate­ly for us, we’re not. 



  • Duncan from Vetter

    December 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Great infor­ma­tive arti­cle Eri­ka! It sounds amaz­ing the idea of being a world-class speak­er. You are def­i­nite­ly on the right track, espe­cial­ly if you keep devel­op­ing your “bad” skill. In brief words, we need to remem­ber to have high aspi­ra­tions, neu­tral safe-aware­ness, end­less curios­i­ty and a nasty side, and pos­i­tive results won’t cease to appear.


    • Erika Andersen

      December 23, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      Hmmm.…“a nasty side”? Not sure you and I are talk­ing about the same kind of “being bad”!


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