My passport got stolen but…

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Do you believe that all things in life happen for a reason?

Yesterday, my passport and mobile phone got stolen in Barcelona. I spent 3 hours at the police station trying to get a document that would allow me to fly home after a busy week of training. However, even with that document, I was refused at the airport to board the plane. The embassy of my country is now closed until Monday and after an unsuccessful search for any alternative, the only thing I could do is to go back to the hotel from which I checked out earlier that day.

Quite scary and shocking experience if you ask me..

Being stuck in Barcelona meant that today I had a full day for myself. I decided to go to Park Guell – one of my favourite places in the world. I sat there for hours underneath a tree, reading an amazing book, listening to my favourite album and admiring beautiful views – something that I always wanted to do but never had time for during all my previous visits to this city.

While sitting in the park, I observed people, who were capturing few photos and then quickly moving to the next place. I saw teenagers, mums with kids and middle-aged couples taking endless selfies and portraits with two-seconds-long, big smiles on their faces.

And I couldn’t stop thinking…

What is going to happen with all of these photos?

The owners will probably:

a) post them on Facebook the same day making some of their friends wish they could be somewhere else right now and therefore feel a bit dissatisfied with their lives

b) watch them a few years later wishing that they could live the past again

c) forget about them and the place itself since what they really focused on was technology rather than the real beauty of this amazing location

Yesterday was not the greatest days of my life, but if those unpleasant events didn’t happen I wouldn’t experience and learn something very special.

Today taught me a very important lesson – to slow down, make time for myself and enjoy every beautiful moment when it actually happens.

Because that’s where the real beauty, happiness and peace can be found.

How to Look Confident When Speaking?

Today I found a brilliant and well-researched infographic on how to look confident.

Confidence and effective public speaking go hand in hand therefore I am sharing this graphic here.

I love it because in the sources it mentions one of my all time favourite Ted talk – Amy Cuddy – ‘Fake it until you make it‘. If you haven’t seen it, do check it out!

I have tested Amy’s approach several times in the past before any big training or presentation (last time 3 weeks ago when I had to present in front of 200 people) and I can say with all honesty that it works. I also played this video during the public speaking course that I recently organised in my company and was told that one of my colleagues used this technique before their first ever conference speech and won the award for the best speaker of the event! Now that’s what I call a result!

Enjoy the read! 🙂

Source: http://www.success.com/article/how-to-look-confident-even-when-youre-not

How to look confident

The Most Beautiful Song About the Fear of Speaking

 

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Emeli Sande: Read All About It

Emeli Sande “Read All About It “

You’ve got the words to change a nation
But you’re biting your tongue
You’ve spent a life time stuck in silence
Afraid you’ll say something wrong
If no one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song?

So come on, come on
Come on, come on

You’ve got a heart as loud as lion’s
So why let your voice be tamed?
Maybe we’re a little different
There’s no need to be ashamed
You’ve got the light to fight the shadows
So stop hiding it away

Come on, come on

I wanna sing, I wanna shout
I wanna scream ’til the words dry out
So put it in all of the papers,
I’m not afraid
They can read all about it
Read all about it, oh

[…]

Yeah, we’re all wonderful, wonderful people
So when did we all get so fearful?
Now we’re finally finding our voices
So take a chance, come help me sing this

I wanna sing, I wanna shout
I wanna scream ’til the words dry out
So put it in all of the papers,
I’m not afraid
They can read all about it
Read all about it, oh

Why Are We So Afraid To Sing in Public?

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Apparently, I used to be able to sing.

I was recognised at school as the one with a wide vocal range and was asked to join the school’s choir. Most of the members of my family are good and confident, casual singers therefore, it probably wasn’t a surprise for my parents that I also had that ability. While at the choir, I took part in a couple of competitions and we even won some awards.  However, this didn’t come easy to me. Whenever during our rehearsals I was asked to sing a solo, I felt extremely shy, self-conscious and nervous and most of the times, because of all these negative feelings, I would end up singing out of tune and laugh nervously.

This reoccurring laugh was making my coach think that I wasn’t serious about signing and there came a point during my ‘signing career’ when I was no longer asked to do solos at rehearsals. During the school times, I never actually sang a solo in front of the audience. And that’s despite the fact that somewhere deep inside I always dreamt about doing so.

This fear that I would end up laughing uncontrollably or sound very awkward prevented me from even trying to sign solos at the karaoke competitions that used to be extremely popular in my home town in Poland. I didn’t mind signing in a group (only after specific amount of alcohol hit my blood stream) but whenever I would be asked to stand up to sing I would avoid it like a fire.

Just over a year ago, my friend organised a karaoke party at one of our local Chinese restaurant in the UK. Chinese karaokes are different than Polish. Polish ones usually happen in a pub and you stand right in the middle of the premises and have a large and not very understanding (to say the least) audience. If they don’t like it, they will definitely show it since my nation has a great tendency of expressing especially negative emotions in a very straightforward way. 🙂 In contrary, if you want to organise Chinese-style karaoke, you hire a small, private room and the only audience that listens to you are your friends.

I didn’t drink that night but since most of the people that I was with were hesitant to sing, I somehow decided to take the microphone in my hand…

I sang one of my all-time favourite songs ‘Don’t speak’ by No Doubt (yeah, I know! Funny choice of a title for someone who encourages people to speak! ).

I closed my eyes and started signing..

There was something absolutely amazing in hearing my little, shy voice in this tiny room after so many years! I started very quietly but soon realised that, for my ears, most of the notes sounded fine. I increased the volume slightly…

I actually sat throughout the whole song in the corner of the room as I couldn’t stop my knees from shaking and had big goose bumps on my skin. I was so surprised to see that the longer I went for, the more confidently I sang and the more smiles I saw on my friends’ faces.

I suddenly found myself smiling too! I was starting to have fun and the moment I realised it, I felt pure happiness! I even got little ovation when I finished which was amazing and made me blush like my nation’s favourite veggie – fresh beetroot 😉

Someone chose the next song and asked for a partner to sign it with. It was Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and, to my complete surprise, I found myself running towards our little stage. When the first notes hit, I started dancing uncontrollably (yeah, I can look a bit mad when I do that!) and singing my heart out. I absolutely loved it!! It is fair to say that this was one of the most liberating experiences in my life!

I smile when I write this as it’s one of those moments in my life that I will never forget. Those unforgettable moments are usually the ones when you decide that your fear will no longer stop you from doing something!

I know that majority of people don’t like signing in public. Yet, we sign our throats out in the car or in the shower! How come we can do that?

Because there is no one to judge us therefore we know we can’t be hurt!

We watch the singing competitions such xFactor or the Voice (come on, admit it!) because these shows are about pure self-expression and making your dreams come true. Don’t we all want that in our careers and private lives?

So why not many people go and get it?

I know why I didn’t.

I avoided singing in front of people because I was afraid to be judged. I was scared that I will not hit all the notes (read – not be perfect) and because of this, I would sound silly and embarrass myself.

The same fear stopped me from public speaking as I described in my initial blog post.

Most of us like to do things in which we are experienced or have a knowledge off. The things that we are familiar with. This increases the chance of making less mistakes and be as close to perfection as possible.

In any public speaking situation there is always an element of uncertainty – be it a question asked from the audience that we weren’t prepared for answering, the possibility that you will forget what to say, unexpected wardrobe malfunction or failure of presenting equipment.

What if we accepted that uncertainty is part of our life because it helps us learn new things about ourselves?

What would happen if we let our guards go and allow ourselves to fully express who we are and accept that perfection is not the ultimate goal?

I dare to say that we would most likely have a ball of our life!

Self-expression has many forms- laughing laud, dancing without feeling awkward, expressing your opinion (however original it might be) or perhaps openly showing your true emotions to another human being.

I believe that the real growth is about discovering our true selves and expressing it to the world. And the only way to do so is by challenging our fears and dancing with them rather than allowing them to limit us. They will probably never disappear as our brain is 2 million years old and is a master in constantly searching for danger to help us survive. But we can learn how to manage them!

Imagine what would happen if you did learn how to fight your brain’s primitive instincts and push your thoughts towards more positive, liberating thoughts?

I am absolutely certain that you would have a ball everyday of your life! 🙂

5 reasons why I loved watching Terri Trespicio’s TED talk

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I am a huge fan of TED talks!

Why? Because I love learning and there is so much we can learn from them!

If you have never heard of TED conference, check out their website www.ted.com.

The event takes place several times each year in a variety of locations around the world and anyone can apply to speak and share their idea on any subject. The only requirement is to prepare a maximum 20 minute-long talk which, once accepted, will get recorded and will be published online for anyone to watch.

TED talks are wonderful for several reasons:

  • learning new ideas on variety of topics ranging from physics, politics or ethics through to psychology, criminology or epidemiology 
  • hearing from top leaders such as Bill Gates or Sheryl Sandberg but also from ordinary people who just want to share what they learned about life 
  • getting tips on how to effectively communicate your ideas in front of the large audience

A couple of days ago, I watched another great one which I would like to share with you.

It was given by Terri Trespicio, a person that I didn’t know anything about before. She talked about this idea that nowadays, in the world where success is perceived as the ultimate way of happiness, everyone feels under tremendous pressure to have some sort of passion. And if you don’t find this one thing that you were supposedly born to do, your life will be perceived as failure.

You can find the full TED talk here.

I have to say that, despite understanding and apprehending the main idea, I didn’t agree with all of her arguments. However, what I really loved, was the way she delivered her talk and for me, this is the true beauty of TED talk!

You can listen to such a wide variety of different opinions, and regardless whether you agree with them or not, what you often gain from watching Ted are tips on how to speak in an engaging and interesting way about matters important to you.

So what’s so great about this TED talk?

1. It tells a story

Terri starts the talk by explaining her personal experience. She takes us back to her past where she was fired from a couple of jobs and felt useless. She speaks about her clearly painful and embarrassing experiences but she does it in such a funny and light way that you can’t help but smile or even laugh while listening. She is critical about herself too (‘I was such a mess, such a mess!’) and very openly speaks about her feeling of worthlessness – something that for sure many listeners experienced at some point of their life. This makes it easier to understand her main points and helps us get to know her better.

2. The delivery is effortless

When speaking, Terri is wonderfully relaxed. Whether you agree with her or not, her energy and positive attitude are contagious and it makes you listen until the end on ‘one inhale’. What also helps, is the fact that she clearly enjoys sharing her story and feels comfortable with herself (laughing from her own jokes is the strongest example of that).

3. It’s not a lecture

Throughout the speech, Teri uses many casual words like ‘you know’, ‘right?’ and ‘anyway’. This makes the speech feel more like a part of conversation rather than a monologue. What also helps emphasise the impression that she is having a chat with us, is the fact that she uses very plain english language with no jargon. She doesn’t try to sound super intelligent, she is just being herself. Listening to her is effortless and at no point I found my brain wondering somewhere else which often happens with worse talks. I enjoyed listening to her and I felt that I could continue this conversation afterwards.

4. The body language and the usage of space

Whether consciously or unconsciously, Terri used a lot of vivid facial expressions and gestures that supported what she was saying. This helped me think that the message she was delivering was very genuine.

On top of this, what also helped with maintaining my attention was her way of speaking – she modulated her voice several times by speaking lauder or quieter depending on the point she wanted to make.

She also used her stage presence very well, walking around the room rather than standing in one place. She maintained eye contact with the audience throughout her speech, was very good at taking tiny breaks before and after making the important points and had a good breathing technique which made her voice sound steady and firm.

5. Powerful ending

Most of Terri’s speech was about her personal experiences. Only in the last 3 minutes she delivered her final, powerful message. This was well planned because that’s when people are truly ready to not only listen but also make an effort to understand your point.

This can only happen when:

  • your audience had a chance to hear something personal about you, something that potentially they could identify themselves with
  • they had time to decide that they like you
  • you had a chance to entertain them and got them interested

You will not influence anyone if you simply focus only on telling people what to do. You will not persuade anyone to believe you if you won’t be truly honest with them.

And the only way to do this is to share openly your own emotions and your own struggles that you had to go through before you learnt something important about your life.

Just like Terri did.

The Unleash the Power Within Experience – part2

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If you read my previous post, you probably got an idea that the Unleash The Power Within seminar surprised me on many levels.

However, one thing that I completely did not expect to take away from this event is the super strong willingness to improve my health backed up with the knowledge on how to start!

On the second day of the seminar we were asked to quickly draw a diagram assessing from 1-10 each area of our life such as finances, career, relationships, emotions, physical body and time.

We were given about a minute to do so, therefore couldn’t really think much about what we were writing. I was pretty surprised that out of all the other areas of my life, I rated my physical body with the lowest amount of points. I considered myself to be a reasonably fit person but I was also aware that there was a room for improvement in my diet, work pace and certain thinking and acting habits. I just haven’t realised how big that room would become by the end of the event!

Robbins went on to say that the area that was the lowest in terms of points in our diagrams should be the one we ought to start working on straight away since this is the one that would have the biggest impact on everything else in our lives.

He mentioned several times that 80% of the success is psychology and 20% are mechanics. However, what he was also very passionate about and repeated on many occasions was that without health (and by health he meant energy) you can’t achieve as much as you could if you were at your healthiest and fittest state.

I couldn’t agree more. The last 3 years of my life have been pretty challenging. This included a very hectic travel calendar (40% of the whole 2015 I spent away from home mostly for work), taking on many new responsibilities and some new hobbies, doing a lot of overtime and, on top of this, dealing with a quick and unexpected loss of a close to my heart person.

I was suffering from stress and tiredness and was comfort eating chocolate and loads of fatty food such as crisps, chips, steaks etc. (I am an onion ring addict!!)

My travel had an impact on the fact that I couldn’t train my beloved volleyball as much as I wanted to and I didn’t do any other sport while I was away (that’s caused by my own laziness rather than anything else!).

All of this in return affected my energy and mood levels. Moreover, straight after the UPW conference, I flew to Berlin to deliver another super intense training and immediately after that event I got pretty poorly with a cold/flu kind of illness from which I have been struggling to recover ever since.

That is why the message from Robbins hit home really hard!

Here is a brief summary of the things that I learnt:

  1. 70% of the toxins inside our bodies are removed through our lungs yet most of the people do not provide enough of oxygen to their cells and therefore feel constantly tired and start ageing quicker. Regular exercise dramatically increases the oxygen levels in our bodies which in return can have great impact on our mood levels.  I loved Tony’s trainer Joseph McClendon explaining in a hilarious way how we should use our diaphragm to breathe more deeply rather than in the usual shallow way that most people do.

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    Joseph McClendon explaining how to breathe from the diaphragm
  2. 60-70% of the Western population is dehydrated. Most of the people only drink when they feel thirsty, not when they should – that is a couple
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    Add lemon to water

    of sips of water every 15-20min. The feeling of thirst is our body’s last and desperate signal to get some liquid. The first signal is tiredness and the feeling similar to hunger (that is also why many people overeat because they confuse being hungry with being dehydrated).  A well hydrated body produces colourless (not yellow or orange) urine. A slice of lemon helps alkaline the water.

  3. 90% of people have too much acid in their bodies due to consuming too much caffeine, whites, vinegar, meat, diary, sugar, alcohol, nicotine. And acidic environment is perfect for variety of modern illnesses to thrive. If you are overweight you are over acid. Cancer grows only in acidic environment.
  4. Sugar is toxic in our body . We are taking 30 times more sugar in our body than our grandparents were taking at our age. Sugar creates environment where there is less oxygen. It is the number one factor behind obesity and type 2 diabetes. This is a subject I have been researching a lot this year. If you quickly want to learn more watch ‘That Sugar Film’ on Youtube (if you live in Poland go to cinema as they now screen it!).
  5. 70% of our food should be water rich and the only way to achieve that is by eating green things. Tony calls them ‘alive things’. ‘If you want feel more alive you need to eat more alive foods’.
  6. We do not eat enough of healthy oils – that is Omega 3 and Omega 6. They increase oxidation and metabolic rate and have many more amazing benefits to our bodies.
  7. We eat too much meat that is full of hormones and antibiotics injected to dramatically speed up growth and avoid the spread of diseases. 
  8. We eat too much diary which again comes from poorly fed animals.

I think that it’s super important for all of us to pay more attention to our health. However, with the large amount of information available on this subject, it is sometimes very confusing to feel confident in terms of what we should be doing/eating/drinking to stay healthy.

I decided to give Robbins’ advises a try. I know he is, just like me, a research freak and he wouldn’t teach something he doesn’t practice himself. I have started applying the rules given and I am already seeing amazing results in terms of my body weight. The more I read about it, the more sense all of this makes to me and the more motivated I feel to keep going.

I believe that all the big things happen through small, systematically implemented changes. At the end of the day, being at your maximum physical and mental health should be an ultimate goal for all of us if we want to live long and brave lives.

And what a great goal that is to have! 🙂

 

 

The Unleash the Power Within Experience – part 1

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When you experience something that is altogether so mind-blowing, thought-provoking, shocking, calming, and at the same time purely outstanding, it is really hard to find the words to accurately describe it.

People have asked me during the last 2 weeks what was it like to attend the Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within seminar. Some of them had heard of Robbins before, others didn’t have a clue who he was, yet they saw me posting some pictures from the event on social media or read my previous blog post and wanted to know more. Some of those who asked, felt the same about the area of personal development like I did, some of them felt that ‘this whole positive thinking stuff’ was a complete bunch of rubbish. Trying to find an answer to explain to all of them in the easiest to understand and shortest way what I have just been through wasn’t an easy task.

This is also one of the reasons why I have not written anything in this blog for the last 2 weeks. I just simply couldn’t imagine how I could describe this whole experience in one tiny post without making sure that it would justify the power of this event. I also wanted to give myself the time to think about everything that I learnt over those 4 days.

I dare to say that nothing, absolutely nothing can prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster that you will experience during this event if you decide to participate full on! I thought I knew what I was going to see/hear/feel since I saw Tony Robbins for few hours 3 years ago. But being immersed into this whole event for 4 days proved to be a completely different game level. By attending this seminar, one would expect to hear a lot of things that trigger new ways of thinking about our lives. However, one thing that surprised me was the amount of focus we put on managing our physical state. Tony Robbins every single day repeated the following mantra:

“Motion creates emotion”

That is why, attending this conference was completely different from reading any book on this subject or watching a video. During the conference I, together with eight thousand people, was completely immersed in the atmosphere driven by the incredible charisma of Robbins. We were challenged to walk on super hot coals, speak to complete strangers, tell them about our deepest fears and dreams, do physical and breathing exercises and stay at the conference even for as long as 16 hours in a single day. We danced, laughed, cried, shouted and jumped together without any limitations. All of this in order to release the kind of energy that many of us clearly didn’t even know that we could access within us.

I am usually a pretty energetic person but definitely not a morning one, therefore I was totally surprised when I came back one night to my hotel room at 1:30am and at 6am the following day was wide awake wanting to dance and ready for the next day!  🙂

20160410_103350On the first day of the event, we were given chunky workbooks and these workbooks over the next 4 days have become the testimonies of many of our thoughts, decisions and realisations that our mind produced during this time. Before we were asked to write anything down in the workbook, we were put in a peak state that allowed us to think openly and without fear. We were told not to hesitate if a thought that didn’t sound right was coming into our mind during that state- we just had to write it down. I was at times so embarrassed about the bravery of my thoughts achieved in that state, that I decided to write them in my native language so that no one around me could understand them! 🙂

When I read my workbook now, I am pretty amazed to see what my brain came up with without overthinking certain subjects and without being driven by emotions. It helped me realise some core beliefs that I had about myself and how they have been limiting me so far. I also learnt a lot about my core needs and what I have been doing so far to meet them in both good and bad ways.

When I finished writing down some of my thoughts, I took a moment to look around. It was extraordinary to see so many people around you being so focused on describing their lives in their little books. They were holding on to those books as if they were their precious babies! Many of them had tears in their eyes..

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This event made me realise how important in our every day lives is to slow down and take a moment to think what is it that actually matters to us and what we could do to live for what matters, not for what we feel we have to do or what others try to tell us we should do.

‘What is your purpose?’ – Robbins will ask you during the event.

What are the unique talents that you have been given as a human being that you supposed to discover during your life time and utilise them in order to help others shine?

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Throughout this event, I had a deep feeling that I am doing something very special for myself – allowing the time to focus on who I really am and how I should use that knowledge to shape my life.

I have realised how absolutely crucial for all of us is to take time away from our usual lives and spend it on meditating about what is important for us, what we are grateful for, where we are going, what is our purpose and whether we are doing everything we can to fulfil this purpose. It is so easy nowadays to focus on the things that don’t lead us to anywhere – scrolling down through the social media statuses of people who we barely know, reading news and gossips about people who don’t bring anything positive to our world, spending time in front of TV watching shows and films that cultivate unrealistic picture of life and don’t teach us anything valuable.

Where are we in all of this?

How come it is so easy to sacrifice our private time? The time that we could spend otherwise on dreaming, exploring our potential and assessing the paths to follow?

After the event and in fact even few times before, I have asked myself several times where is this internal drive of mine for becoming better, stronger, fitter version of myself comes from? Where is it trying to lead me? And the more I focus on this now, the more I realise that I do it because I want to have bigger impact on the people around me. To uplift them, to inspire them and to show them that if I can, for example, manage my public speaking fear and in fact build a full career around it- they can too!

I found today a video of Oprah Winfrey making a  commencement speech at Harvard University where she perfectly describes this drive of mine:

“You all might have a little anxiety now and hesitation about leaving the comfort of the college and putting those Harvard credentials to the test. But no matter what challenges and setbacks you will encounter along the way, you will find the true success and happiness if you have only one goal: to fulfil the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being. You want to max out your humanity by using your energy to lift yourself up, your family and the people around you”

She also mentioned the following quote that really resonates with me :

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman

Why was it worth coming to this event? I could come up with tens of reasons but one sentence summarises it all – it made me feel truly alive!

And I wish to myself and everyone else to experience this empowering feeling on a regular basis. That’s why I am committed to sharing my experiences via this blog and in fact, any other way that I can!