I once took a positive thinking course.
It was crap.
Here’s how my stroke changed the way I see positive thinking and improved my confidence on stage.
24 years ago I had a stroke.
An artery in my head exploded. An aneurysm.
Part of the artery was weaker. Without my knowledge, or consent, the weak area ballooned over time, gradually becoming more fragile. Until…
The good news?
I was sound asleep. Didn’t feel a thing.
The bad news?
Trying to get out of bed the morning after…
Imagine the worst hangover you’ve ever experienced. Couple that with not being able to balance and unexpected dance moves. Kind of like watching a cartoon where the character realizes he’s just run off a cliff. His legs are still cycling a thousand miles an hour, but he’s not going anywhere. Slips on a banana peel when he lands.
All of this happened at age 17.
To cut a long story short: After multiple doctor visits, a failed operation, a few cross-country flights, and a second operation that required my signature to “consent to be a research subject”, I was patched-up and good to go.
Onwards and upwards
A stroke has devastating effects on its victims.
For survivors there are many mental and physical challenges to overcome.
In my case, being 17 was a blessing and a curse.
A blessing because my bounce-back time was fast. I was back to close to 100% regular routine within a month. A weak right side, strengthening day-by-day was my biggest physical challenge.
A curse because I now felt invincible. In my 17 year old mind I had slayed an unbeatable dragon. I had diced with death and come out the victor. Nothing could stop me now!
Positive thinking = zilch
Nothing could stop me! I could do anything!
I had a new lease on life and I was going to take the world by storm!
Someone had given me a book about positive affirmations while I was in hospital. I got into positive thinking. I practiced affirmations daily. While I was walking. On the bus. On the train. Everywhere!
Trouble is, positive thinking is just that… thinking. Even the most pessimistic person can do positive thinking:
“Stupid car, always breaking down. My boss is going to be so pissed if I’m late. Typical!… Red traffic signal. Be positive. You’re going to hit your success goals this year. Argghhhh! Dumb people, get out of the way!”
Years later (many years later) I reflected that the bits and pieces I had achieved in my life had been achieved through happenstance and luck. All my positive thinking amounted to nothing. And this is what got me thinking about positive thinking…
Positive thinking is important. Having a positive attitude is vital to staying cool and in control.
But, like it or not, it’s not an essential ingredient for achievement. Having a positive attitude and positive thoughts means your achievements will be much more satisfying. But positive thinking alone won’t get you there.
The essential ingredient to achieving what you want; The secret technique to overcoming obstacles; The magic powder to unlocking your goals is simply this:
When you think positive you feel better.
When you take action things happen.
When you take action and think positive you become unstoppable.
And here’s the thing I discovered: When you take massive action your thinking naturally becomes more positive.
Improved my confidence on stage
So how does a stroke, “positive thinking”, “not positive thinking”, and “taking action” relate to being confident on stage?
I always struggled with a fear of public speaking.
No matter how many positive thoughts I had… No matter how much I told myself that audiences would be kind, I couldn’t stand confidently on stage and speak.
But when I started taking action, my confidence improved.
When I stopped focusing on the terror of talking to a group and, instead, turned my attention to strategic actions for overcoming my nervousness, that’s when the magic happened.
Strategic actions to take the pressure off. Strategic actions, such as pushing to the audience, memorization methods, and engagement devices.
When I focused on actions my confidence improved and positive thinking became much more easy and natural. Consider this when New Year resolution setting approaches.
Want to improve your public speaking, your confidence, or any area of your life? Focus on taking action.
What do you think?