2 The Heart of Speaking

The Giving of Love Is an Education in Itself

heartAs speakers and leaders, loving people into their magnificence is one of the biggest gifts we can bring to those we serve. So when I work with a client on a new talk, I send them off with the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:  “The giving of love is an education in itself.”

When taking the stage, it’s so easy to be absorbed in what we’re about to say, or in centering ourselves to alleviate fear, we forget to focus on those who will be listening to us. Continue reading

The Power of Your Untold Story

“Wherever you are is called here, and you must treat it as a powerful stranger . . .”

The above line, from the poem Lost by David Waggoner, touches me each time I hear it. So often where we actually are in our lives represents the story we don’t want others to know. It may reveal that we’re not on top of our game where our culture would have us believe we are supposed to be. It may not show us in the best light when we want to impress those around us. It may expose a broken heart to even more vulnerability. So we stuff the truth and pretend it isn’t real or important, forgetting we’re all members of the Scar Clan. Continue reading

A Raucous Holy Fool’s Day to One and All!

April 1st

Holy Fool’s Day

April 1 is the day to find your voice, speak your truth, and shake things up.  Forget the pranks and silly antics of April Fool’s Day. Become a Holy Fool!

Each year I remind you that this is your day to speak out.  Here is last year’s post to inspire ideas for the outer expression of your inner Holy Fool.

Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell talked about the archetype of the Holy Fool. The Fool is the most dangerous person on earth, Campbell explained, the most threatening to all hierarchical institutions.  He has no concern for naysayers, and no one has power over him (or her). She is not limited, not stoppable, nor controllable. She knows what she has to do and is doing it, no matter what. Continue reading

Get Your Spark of Madness on For Holy Fool’s Day

April Fool

Holy Fool’s Day

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” – Robin Williams

Lately I’ve been applying the above words from one of my favorite philosophers, Robin Williams, to the art of transformational speaking. Most of us tame our madness to fit into what others expect and never use our inherent spark to become the wildly unforgettable speakers and change artists that are needed in these times of shocking transformation.

I suggest you no longer try to lose or suppress your spark of madness and instead give it a voice on April 1, which I have renamed Holy Fool’s Day. This festive and often annoying holiday suggests we play tricks on others with a jovial spirit and once we’ve duped them to yell with delight, “April Fools!”

Yet comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell talked about the archetype of another kind of fool: the Holy Fool. The Fool is the most dangerous person on earth, Continue reading

Don’t Sanitize (or Dramatize!) Your Story: A Lesson in the Power of Real Emotion

Omega Institute

Omega Institute

When teaching at Omega Institute last summer, I received a poignant reminder of the power of expressing our emotions as we speak. A woman in my class moved us all with her heartbreaking and heart-opening story. First we learned of the medical error that led to her loss of the child she was carrying, and then she shared her journey of healing that led her to Rwanda and a profound experience of forgiveness.

When Tina finished her story, we were in a place that was beyond words. Those are the rare moments where as speakers we must be willing to inhabit the stillness and allow ourselves to feel rather than fill the space with words. She stood in silence. As her coach, I did the same.

How often we step in to try to comment on the indescribable. Continue reading

A personal message from Gail…

Many of you have written to ask where I’ve been, am I okay, why haven’t I been in touch, and even to say you miss my occasional newsletters.  Thank you!  It has been a fallow time in my creative life as my outer life has been taking my full energy.  But the seeds of new experience have been planted that I trust will bring a rich harvest.

The irony is not lost on me that my attempt to upgrade my website and become social media savvy to communicate more regularly was a big part of what shut me down! The process was agonizing and I haven’t written since the new site went live last spring.  At the same time, 2011 was full of “firsts” including an amazing trip to Peru, where I was able to connect more directly with the indigenous wisdom that informs my work. Lynne Twist and I developed a new workshop Fundraising from the Heart: The Soul of Money, the Soul of Story, which we presented at Stillheart Institute in the California redwoods (coming soon on video).  My two-day introductory workshop in Vancouver for 25 people sold out in a week, so I returned for a second one.  I also had the honor of coaching the seven Social Venture Network  innovation award winners for the award ceremony at the Philadelphia conference in October. Their world-changing stories, all so different, reminded me once again that when we know our medicine and our message and answer the call of our hearts, we get out of our own way and serve the needs of our changing times. Continue reading

Responsibility for Your Impact

What Happens When Women Wake Up?

What Happens When Women Wake Up?

Years ago in my intensive studies with cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien, she spoke of “responsibility for our impact.” That teaching has stayed with me as I’ve observed how easy is it for others to perceive us in ways that can be contrary to how we see ourselves. Being responsible for our impact requires that we remain vigilant to the expectations we create. For example, when we are given the speaking platform, the invitation confers a level of authority that gives our words great power. And on a personal level, when engaged in a glorious “what if . . . ?” co-creative surge that comes and goes like a hot flash, others may be making plans while we are moving on.

It is time to recognize the power we hold. It is time to clear those sabotaging voices that tell us we’re not enough. We would be wise to heed the advice quoted by a recent client: “Don’t compare your insides with everybody else’s outsides.” Continue reading

Has Your Message Chosen You?

 

Sense of Wonder

Sense of Wonder

This week I saw the inspiring film A Sense of Wonder made from interviews with Rachel Carson in the final year of her life, in 1964. As the government marine biologist spoke of the critical acclaim she received for her book Silent Spring, she said, “In some ways, the subject chooses the writer.”

Carson had made a seven-month commitment to write a book for which she received a publishing advance from Houghton Mifflin in 1958. It became the culmination of her life’s work when, two and a half years into her research, she realized she was just scratching the surface. When Silent Spring was published in 1962, the critics in the chemical industry were louder than the initial acclaim. (She noted there were few dissidents but they had a lot of money.) Her book catalyzed investigation into the destruction of life that comes from synthetic pesticides and catapulted environmental concerns to the forefront of public discourse, where they have remained ever since. Continue reading

2009: The Best Year Ever for Your Voice to be Heard (Free call on Jan. 13)

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.” – Hafiz

2009 is one of the best years possible to do the work of your heart. In “normal” times there is no urgency or need to go beyond what is known and accepted. In today’s more turbulent times, when you speak in your unique way about what you love, what you believe in, and what you offer, you touch an unnamed longing in people that wakes them up to the value of something that only you can provide. Your authentic and distinct voice can be heard as never before. Continue reading

Gifts that Keep on Giving: Your Story & Your Spare Parts!

Beth Jarman wrote to tell me about the holiday party she and her husband George Land are planning for their business partners from Mexico. “It is a great time, renewing connections and sharing stories. We have an annual white elephant gift which can only be something that has no redeeming value,” she says.

I started to wonder how many gifts we give without knowing we have outdone ourselves by presenting a white elephant. Continue reading


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