Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Finding Voice - Barriers to Effective Communication

Today has been a constructive day for me.  I have refocused, taken inventory of where I am at, where I need to be and the next steps to take.  My mind is still going a mile a minute but I am not letting it get too far ahead of me.  I am eagerly awaiting word as to whether a few pieces of work I have submitted will be published or not, I am obviously hopeful and optimistic but if rejected I will at the very least receive valuable criticism on my work. 

So outside of my goals I speak of daily I have a new one to work on that has nothing to do with my current projects but such is an invaluable tool in life, often it separates the have(s) from the have-not(s), the revered and the  ignored…and this is finding my voice.  Not my writing voice but rather how I verbally communicate and express myself to others.  I know this is difficult for so many of us with different forms of anxiety but we must recognize verbal communication importance.  Although what may be going on inside of our head is a very intelligent, well thought out million dollar idea we are unable to vocalize it the way we would like simply not doing  it justice and the idea or statement simply falls flat.  Perhaps this is more prominent when there are too many people, around authority figures, perhaps an overbearing personality.

In my previous employment I was the Lead Structural Planner & Estimator over Government Contracts for a large shipbuilding company.  Being the youngest to have ever held that position or one of equal responsibility at that particular company meant that I was often aggressively challenged by others so I had to know my stuff, know it well and be willing to go toe to toe in a moment’s notice either defending a position, plan or idea.  Contract negotiations were quite interesting and in many instances grown men cried out of frustration or anger, I was never one of these men due to the confidence I had in myself and my abilities.   Often during the course
of these aggressive business dealings certain people   that knew just  enough to make themselves and by throwing around a few buzzwords (most of us have met the type) they tried passing themselves off as knowledgeable when arguing how long they thought a particular operation should take or the requirements that went with that operation.  I had to use my voice of confidence, reasoning and finesse to run verbal circles around them, poke holes in everything they said and then restate what in reality had to take place.  Although I am very glad the tone of business where I am currently employed is a much different environment and does not require me to constantly be on the defensive but it was also challenging and exciting to know the business in and out and truly be a subject matter expert. 

Reading back I sound like a pretty confident guy with all priorities in order, the only problem is that I have yet to reveal the small detail that during this entire period I was abusing and eventually became physically dependent on opiate based painkillers originally because I liked the way it made me feel fearless and quick-witted.  When on these I had no inhibitions as they took away any and all anxiety or doubts that I had and with them I knew how knowledgeable I was. I was often referred to as a “walking encyclopedia” in regards to any structural requirements when it came to Nimitz Class Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carriers (CVN) because I was able to quote chapter, line and verse of the particular Military Standard that was the Governing Document we were working to. 

Then everything for me changed in one night after having had a very close call and nearly died from an accidental overdose where I am told I stopped breathing and had no pulse (according to my wife who saved my life I literally was dead for a short while). After that event and with the help of a Doctor I managed to kick this habit, although I was still not clean and sober I was off of that particular drug. 

When I left this drug behind I also seem to have left my voice, my confidence, my ability to easily structure thoughts into intelligent well phrased sentences that projected any substance.  This drug obviously did not make me smarter, but I felt without as if I was projecting myself as someone with much less to offer.  I decided I had to move on as roughly half of the people employed there used painkillers recreationally and I began to look for work elsewhere which I eventually  found and although I have a standing offer to return anytime I do feel as if I left having lost.  Being seen for who I was when anxious and no longer the whiz kid, or certainly did not feel like any whiz kid was a humiliating experience for me. 

So how can I regain that voice of confidence and fearlessness?  How can any of us that have this problem?  I know in my case it is there waiting to be tapped into but this time I need to find it without the aid of drugs or alcohol, perhaps you are in the same situation or maybe you have never found your voice but realize the value it has in life. There are several ways we could go about doing this, of course only through healthy means as nothing in this world is worth trading my sobriety for. Therefore I am going to use every tool at my disposal, which most of us have more than we realize.     

Like any other goal in life we need to have a plan.  First thing I am going to do is to try and find a mentor, somebody that speaks with confidence and authority that I would like to emulate. I can explain the situation and it is important to be completely honest about how anxiety is robbing me of this very important tool and work with this person whenever possible, anyone that would make a decent mentor should be more than willing to help if they have time.  Chances are the person you would pick as a successful speaker is also an authority figure and therefore has the means to coach you and most likely get you in front of an audience, if and when you are ready.  I am going to try and do this first chance I get, the larger the audience the better.  By being forthcoming up front with the audience about our fears or troubles speaking, should make for a supportive and very attentive audience, wanting you to do well and willing to give constructive feedback as this fear is by far the most common form of anxiety and if you have an audience larger than one person then odds are someone in your audience has the same problem. If none of these options are available hen there are always local Community Colleges that offer Speech Classes and if taken seriously the return on invest would be immeasurable.

Since I am big on Positive Affirmations I am going to include this goal when writing my daily affirmations. Visualize the success you will have and how good you will feel afterwards.   Do not do this just once and call it good,  recognize verbal communication importance and if at all possible do it again while that feeling of success of speaking to the supportive audience is still fresh because if you are anything like me the self-doubt will start to sneak back into your psyche and before you know it you can be right back in the old frame of mind fighting and fumbling your way through speaking trying to remember a simple word or phrase.  

Most importantly like any other goal it has to be taken seriously and not something to put on a to-do list and file away but we must pursue it immediately through any of the means mentioned or as opportunities present themselves on their own.  Which, if taken seriously and something we truly desire a situation will present itself as the Law of Attraction is always at work.  As always thank you for reading and I hope you were able to find something helpful in these words.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rough Day

I had a difficult morning that got to me a bit and really felt torn down by somebody, so rather than the direction my post was going I am instead sharing this affirmation I wrote.  I truly feel better and peaceful since having written it.

Today is a day that I realize how far I have come rather than the distance ahead.  I will let go of any anger that I usually hold in so tight and I will breathe.   There is only room in my life for positive thoughts, results and attitudes.  I cannot control the attitudes, outlook or opinions of others but I can quickly adapt mine to try, regardless of  results, negativity cannot affect me today.

I am meant to be happy and when someone speaks ill of me I will find something kind to say about them.  If they succeed in hurting me then I will find a way to make them feel good about themselves.  If they speak of my past I’ll silently celebrate my present. 

This peace comes from within so external factors have no effect.  This is how I choose to live my life today.