This voice. This spirit.Read More
By Chris Koch - Lead Voice Consultant at The Voice Advisory (formally Voice Coach)
I’m on a train passing Dangar Island on the Hawkesbury River, just off Brooklyn. It seems to sit so calmly mid-stream in its car-free, romantic isolation. A few weeks ago my 3-year old and I saw some kids coming alongside the pier with their mum in their school uniforms, and I could see he was entranced by the idea of going to school by boat. A client told me yesterday of the deep calm he felt when reading poems to his kids on a camping trip on the island, so much that he continued to read out loud after they dropped off to sleep. No cars.
Last weekend for a family birthday we ended up in the Upper Hunter, at Patrick White’s ancestral digs at Belltrees, spending the night in a whitewashed cottage with an open fire, and a stunning wintry landscape with the shallow, rocky river running past. There was no phone coverage. No computers. No TV.
The persistent buzz, distractions, the speedy thoughts that characterize the state most of us spend our lives in at work - what an utter relief when the buzz is gone, suddenly, for one reason or another. Of course it’s not always possible to cut all the cords and head for the hills - but what if we could stop the buzz without leaving town?
I’d argue it’s possible. We only have to look to thousands of years of contemplative practice, across cultures, from Buddhism to the Sufis to Marcus Aurelius, to see that the ability stop, breathe, and focus on purpose is internal to us. And if we look to contemporary science, we can see the remarkable affects of meditation on the brain, the heart rate, the breathing.
So in our working lives, where the buzz of busyness and end-gaining often dominates, let's try it. Before we begin to speak – to the conference, to the meeting, to the interview panel – just stop. Allow breath to happen. Focus on our purpose, our audience. And then begin, deliberately, not the captives of our own out-of-control momentum, but the authors of our own decisions, the ones setting the agenda.
For more inspiration, head to www.thevoiceadvisory.com
It’s easy to watch Todd Sampson in the truly amazing series, "Redesign My Brain" and "Bodyhack". And it's easy to just want to focus on Todd: fit, vital, brave, intelligent. And yet I wonder if that’s all that attracts us.
What strikes me about Todd Sampson is not only his humility, although that’s impressive, in a no-false-modesty, clear, and good-humoured sort of way. The thing that really catches my attention is his willingness. It occurs to me that willingness is one of the most important qualities when we talk about personal and/or professional development, and certainly when we look at something more specific like improving your voice.
Brain plasticity is the raw material, in a sense, and for that to serve us in any way, we have to interact actively: to form something new through our own decisions. We commit to the unknown - unknown states, abilities - and a new stage of development that we can’t yet see clearly from where we are now.
Brain plasticity is also the reason you can change your voice, your presence, and your impact. Don’t doubt it.
Willingness feeds rigour, and both feed real, established change.
Todd reports that his wife’s response to watching footage of him walking the high wire was to turn to him and say ‘I hope you sorted the f*****g insurance’.
By Chris Koch (Lead Coach in Sydney for Voice Coach)
In the few days after the epic, history making Australian Open Men’s Final between Federer and Nadal, I found myself talking about Federer and his qualities repeatedly while coaching clients.
Then a friend sent through the following video:
Commentators always talk about how Federer plays ‘aggressive’ tennis. I’m not sure that what he does - setting the agenda, making interesting offers that the other player has to respond to – is best described in this way. I think that he takes responsibility for initiating the play, and generating new and inventive strategies. It looks to me like a creative process.
Physical instinct, purpose and drive, in the same package as rational practicality, creative strategy (proactively implemented), graciousness, perspective, clear-sightedness and non-attachment to outcome:
"I try to push myself not to get upset and stay positive, and that’s what my biggest improvement is over all these years. Under pressure I can see things very clearly."
What we’re looking at is a fabulous demonstration of how it’s possible for all of those things to exist simultaneously, in the one personal identity.
We don’t have to lose our vulnerability, our passion, our dignity and graciousness in the workplace, no matter how competitive. It’s not a given. There are reasons that can happen, and explanations, but ultimately none of them are really satisfactory. And if we look to Federer’s example, it’s clear that retaining these qualities doesn’t have to mean we lose our focus, our drive, our competitive edge, or our purpose.
Federer speaking with typical humility after his euphoric win at the Australian Open, said a few days ago: "When I heard Andy [Murray] and others speak about the magnitude of the importance of this match, I actually said:
‘All out, I’m embracing this thing. I understand - it’s important to you guys - and its important to me too but… I still have the mindset: I have nothing to lose. And I think I was able to shuffle all those things around in my head and believed to the very end of the match that I could turn it around, and the last four or five games were just epic so… I couldn’t be happier of course.’
Then he proceeded to answer the European journalists’ questions in fluent French (he is multilingual too - sigh).
At Voice Coach we can't turn you into a tennis champion. If, on the other hand, you’d like to speak with the graciousness, clarity of purpose, and perspective of a Federer, we can help.
When you speak in public, what happens? Most of us experience some sort of anxiety, whether it’s subtle or extreme, before delivering to an audience.Read More
Throughout our adulthood, we accumulate tensions – whether through psycho-physical habit or injury, or whether it’s our jaw clamping our mouths shut to stop us yelling at our boss when we’re angry. Unnecessary physical tension profoundly affects how we sound, by muffling resonance, restricting the movement of the breathing musculature, and constricting the throat so that it’s more difficult for sound to escape.
The ‘knee lock’ is a good way to check a number of muscular tensions – lock your knees by pushing them back firmly, and see what else tenses up. Butt? Thighs? Abdomen? Even the chest?
Recently working with a group of women from a male-dominated business environment, I asked them to each choose a topic that they would care to deliver to their senior business manager.
After a lengthy discussion about taking a risk and speaking from a strong inner motivation, they settled down to identify what excited or agitated them to speak about within the business.
The results were remarkable.Read More
Your spirit, your values, an inner burning desire: your Inner Voice. When you are met with the request to speak, this is the place to start.Read More