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

2012: Your Life is Speaking – What Story Will it Tell?

Foretellings from many cultures point to 2012 as the time when we pass from an old world and way of being to a new time on planet earth.  While we can recognize the economic, political and cultural turmoil around us as fundamental to this dynamic shift, and ultimately a good thing, it’s easy to shut down internally to try to ride out the storm. We want change, in fact for those of you reading this, you are likely one of those working for change. And now that it is happening in so many of the fundamental systems on which we have built our way of life, there’s a tendency to say, “Wait a minute. Not so fast! I haven’t learned how to keep up!”

sepia clockIt is no longer possible to stabilize our lives by managing time. Consider how we speak of time. Make time. Spend time. Save time. Invest time. And, of course, Time is money. The alternative is to learn to feel time and to manage our energy. When I say “feel time” I’m speaking of recognizing and respecting the internal currents that for each of us constitute a rhythm that allows us to operate from our wisdom and knowing, even in the midst of crisis and volatility and outer demands. It changes at different stages of our lives and, when we ignore the needs of our bodies, we risk showing up without a full heart. 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

The Four Bones of a Transformational Speech

Cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien, author of The Four-Fold Way, teaches there are four bones to which we must pay attention if we are to remain fully present in our lives. As in life, so it is in speaking! Here are the four bones:

1. First, the wishbone. That is where our vision resides, the place of dreaming and re-dreaming so that we live the life we came to live. When you’re developing your presentation, what is the vision you hold of what is possible because you choose to show up? A transformational speech begins with knowing the new story you want people to embrace and act upon. So exercise your wishbone as your very first step to a transformational speech. What is the outcome you wish for that makes all the energy of preparing and delivering a presentation worthwhile? Continue reading

Personal Reflections on We the People

We the People

We the People

The U.S. mid-term election results were a reminder that once a constituency is “won,” it is only the beginning of a relationship. Just as motivational fervor is quick to die after the speaker sells a bunch of product, a politician’s success is not sustainable without continued attention to those who voted. Last week’s Transformational Speaking class said it well: Love Your Audience! As evidence of the disengagement of Obama’s base, only 9 million young people voted this week compared to 23 million in 2008. At the same time, the zeal of the Tea Party ignited a movement. It seems the rigor of getting elected pales in comparison to that of governing. Continue reading

The Three Faces: Staying Alive to Your Life and Your Speaking

This month I am experimenting with You Tube and not just writing but also talking to you about the three faces, an African teaching I learned from Angeles Arrien. It is said we stay alive to our lives if each day we express the three faces. The first is the face of the child, the face of wonder and curiosity, imagination and awe. The second is the face of the young lad or young maiden seized by passion and creative fire. The third is the face of rude magnificence, the face of the elder with its wisdom, and yes, often its fierceness. ( I tell a favorite story about the face of rude magnificence as it showed up in me in Switzerland in my book Transformational Speaking.) Continue reading

Calling All Voices: Four Questions to Reveal the Message Written in Your Soul

We are entering a time of shocking transformation. Life as we are living it is not sustainable and many are looking for a better story. The story that is pushing to emerge cannot be for the benefit of a few who have–so far– managed to insulate themselves from the harshness and apprehension that so many live with each day. The new story must be for the good of all life. We need only to look at the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico to recognize our inextricable connectedness with the natural world and to bring home the truth of Chief Seattle’s legendary words: “We did not weave the web of life. We are only a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.” Continue reading

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