The secret to persuasion

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Katie told her boss she was ready for a promotion. Her boss said, “No, I don’t really think so. I think you need to demonstrate some key leadership skills in several upcoming projects and then we can take a look at it.”

Most people at this point would do one of two things:

  1. They would give up and acquiesce, say, “Okay, but can we talk about it again after I complete these projects?”

    or

  2. They would try to change the boss’s mind. Maybe present data, give some examples, politely argue that they’re ready, get into a discussion.

I have never seen either of these paths be successful.

The problem with #1 is that it makes you wait for something you don’t want to wait for. Waiting strips you of causativeness. I never recommend it.

The problem with #2 is that it puts you into a lengthy discussion or debate that will most probably get you no results.

The mistake most people make in this scenario is they try to CHANGE the other person’s reality. This for sure will get you nowhere. Let me tell you why.

Every person on Earth fully believes their version of “reality”. Katie believes she’s ready for a promotion, that’s her reality. Her boss’ reality is that it will take several more projects and more demonstration of skills. It’s not REAL to the boss that Katie is ready.

Here’s a natural law.

When you try to change the other person’s reality, they resist you. Pure and simple.

This is why people encounter resistance. No one likes to have someone else try to change their mind or their view of reality.

But realities do change. People do change their minds. How?

The only thing you CAN do with another person’s reality is listen to it with great interest, understand and acknowledge it.

This is usually done very poorly, but is important beyond belief.

When we don’t like another person’s reality, we’re usually not that keen on hearing or understanding it, and we give very weak, usually dismissive acknowledgments.

Big mistake.

This point is so important. The only thing you can do with another person’s reality is listen really well, understand and acknowledge it.

Here’s another natural law.

If you do that skillfully, they will be satisfied that you really understand them.

At that point, and ONLY at that point, they will automatically open up to what you have to say about your reality.

Up to that point, they’re not really hearing you.

Creating that moment where they open up and are interested in your point of view is key.

All you have to do at this point when they are open and interested, is communicate your reality until they totally get it. Most people stop short of the finish line on this step.

There’s a world of difference between trying to change the other person’s reality and communicating your own reality.

It’s worth spending a couple minutes working this out for yourself with examples that are real to you, because I have seen this one point be the success “make or break point” in persuasion.

It’s an attitude of: “I fully understand where you’re coming from. I’m not trying to change your mind. I really get it. I just want to let you know what I think, where I’m coming from. I just want you to understand that.”

In other words, full mutual understanding is your goal, not persuasion.

The conversation may continue back-and-forth, but if it’s done skillfully in this manner, the other person starts to incorporate your reality into their reality.

This happens naturally, organically, automatically. They start to be able to think with your reality. As they do that, their reality changes because it now includes yours.

That’s exactly what Katie did. And in only one conversation she not only got the promotion she desired, but a salary increase that made her do a spontaneous joyful dance when no one was looking.

She said it felt like magic. Probably because it is. Causative communication is magic, no doubt about it.

If powerful, authentic, non-manipulative persuasion is a skill you’d like to perfect under the guidance of an expert coach, I invite you to our next Causative Communication Live! workshop. What would you do if you could remove every obstacle in your path?

Be the cause!

The source of powerful body language

Communication - Powerful

Last week I delivered a workshop to 42 extremely bright design engineers.

I asked for a volunteer and a real life situation so the group could see exactly the change I was teaching.  I like to demonstrate everything and everyone loves these demonstrations.

The volunteer came up with a difficult scenario relevant to the group. She was trying to persuade me to try a new design that threatened the status quo and my firmly held beliefs.  I was stubbornly yet realistically (exactly the way it happens in real life) not going for it.  

She talked and talked. It was tense, uncomfortable, she was unsuccessful.

I coached her and had her do it again.  Suddenly she got through to me.  With just one sentence.  It wasn’t what she said, it wasn’t the words.  

It was how she said it.

The senior executive of the group burst out with, “Her whole body language changed!” 

It was true.  Everything about her body language had changed. Her eyes, the way she looked at me as she was leaning toward me, her hand gestures, her shoulder position, the expression on her face, her whole face, her whole body, everything

She had real power.

It reminded me of all the times I’ve been asked in my workshops questions about body language, its importance, how to make it effective.

If you start focusing on your hands, whether your eyes arms are crossed, your facial expression, leaning in, your hand gestures, what your feet are doing, any of this, you’ve got way too much attention on all the wrong things.

Body language comes from within.  

When everything INSIDE you falls into place, your body language will be perfect.  

When you achieve a calm stillness, a presence, complete certainty, total confidence, a feeling of real warmth for the other person, inner strength, positive intention, unhurried poise, pure understanding ... believe me, at that moment, your face is radiant and your body language is powerful.

That's what I coached her on.

It wasn’t that her body language was suddenly effective and therefore so was she.  It was the other way around.  What was inside her suddenly became powerfully effective and her body language was a reflection of that.

The place to focus is within.  That’s where the source of being causative is located.  In your heart, in your mind, in that place where you are really you, the best version of you.

Bring that out and get that right, believe me, you will be causative.

And your body language will reflect your power.

Be the cause!

Ingrid 

The shock of coming back to work

Communication - New Year

What makes the winter holidays great for me is the abundance of love, creativity and freedom that flood into my life.  The love of close friends and family, creative expression decorating and gift-giving, freedom to spontaneously do the fabulous, like drive down the California coast to Big Sur with my tight little family.

It’s a bit of a shock to come back from the holidays and enter “the real world”.  It can easily feel I’m surrounded by less love, less opportunity for creativity, restricted freedom.

That’s where being causative comes in. To me being causative means being able to create as much creativity, love and freedom throughout my day-to-day year as I do on holidays.

It doesn’t happen on its own. It takes causative intention.

Being causative is a viewpoint, that’s where it starts. With a decision to be causative. That decision gives birth to ability.

From that decision you get intention, an invisible force that powers your communication. 

Communication requires skill. How skillfully you communicate defines how well you manage the people and the world around you, and is your primary tool for changing minds and bringing new realities into existence.

Many of my clients don’t initially realize the power of this.  They believe things are happening to them.

They don’t realize that their own intention and level of communication skill (or lack of one or the other) shape reality. 

They haven’t yet experienced first-hand that these are skills (not personality traits which should always be left untouched) that can be developed into a super power.

At the end of the year I started a new project with a new client.  The Project Manager they put in place is one of the most negative people I have ever met.  Her immediate reaction was to try to stop the project. Her second was try to get out of the role.  When she couldn’t, she started doing everything she could to sabotage it.  She blamed me. In our meetings she was seething with unexpressed resentment.

I requested a phone call with her before the end of the year.  She “no-showed” for two of our scheduled calls before I finally got her on the phone, and when I did, she was openly condescending, stubbornly resistant.  It was clear where the conversation was headed. I had 60 minutes.

It was enough.  She completely turned around and became a true teammate.

Going into it I knew I had to take full responsibility for both sides of the conversation and for how it turned out. 

I knew I couldn’t leave it up to her, that I couldn’t complain, that I couldn’t get her off the team. 

I was surrounded by barriers. The only freedom I had was to use all my communication skills.

It took every skill I had, but most important was my viewpoint and my certainty that I could cause an extremely positive outcome, that I’m never at the mercy of anyone, especially not anyone negative.   Also my decision that my intention would not waver.  

With that foundation, I used all my communication skills and created a very different outcome than where it was forcefully headed.  

She is now eager to work with me, eager to see the project succeed, eager to help, eager to do whatever it takes. She knows it’s going to take a lot from her because it’s a large organizational project.  She’s all in. Completely different than where we started.

Was it easy?  No.  

Did I enjoy it?  Most definitely not at the beginning.  

Did I want to do it?  I would’ve gladly chosen not to if I’d had a choice.  

Am I glad I did?  Most definitely yes.  

The next five months are going to look completely different as a result.  Not just for me, not just for our team, but for the whole organization. 

The positive effects of this project will last for years for the organization, for a lifetime for the individuals involved.

That was one of my last client calls before I started a wonderful week celebrating the winter holiday and it ended on a total high. 

Now it’s the new year. Stepping away from the comfort and warmth of my family back into the harsh realities of the rest of the world is a bit like diving into ice water.  I’m going to spend this week easing into it gradually, but by next week it will be full bore again.

Possibly you can relate, possibly you feel what I’m talking about in your own life as you make your entrance into this new year.

A solution is to be causative, to create the reality you want with a recipe of intention and outrageously great, super-power level, communication skills.  

Then you will create all the love, creativity and freedom you desire throughout your day-to-day life for the next 12 months and have a grand year.

If you need any help doing that, I can help you develop all the skills you need in our Causative Communication Workshop. Three days of hard work.  A lifetime of amazing results. 

Wishing you a happy new year! May it make your heart sing and your spirit soar.

Be the cause!

The day intention saved a life

Communication - Norma

Norma works with me and I wish you could meet her.  She’d win your heart in 5 minutes. 

Norma’s from El Salvador. The reason she came to America is because she witnessed 3 men murder her husband’s cousin. They gunned him down in the street while he was standing in front of her, and drove away. Then they realized they’d left behind a living witness and started hunting for her.

Norma received numerous death threats so she left her home for another village.  The 3 men were relentless in pursuing her and were closing in on all of her hiding places.

Norma stopped going outside at all.  She lived in constant terror.  

It was emotional torment beyond endurance.

Finally, unable to bear it, she took her 6-year-old son and, with her husband, WALKED day and night for 3 days, staying off the main roads, through the jungles of Guatemala. She arrived in Mexico with bloody feet and legs that couldn’t carry her further.

Then she asked for and received asylum from the US and came here.

When Norma started working for me, she didn’t speak much English. I hired her because of the look in her eye. 

What I saw was bigger than words. 

I saw a depth of character that is rare. 

At first we used Google Translator to communicate. Then I gave Norma a Spanish version of the training material I use when I teach Learning How to Learn, because I wanted her to know that she could learn ANYTHING. It inspired her to sign up for English classes and she learned so fast, it was like lightning. 

Although Norma had a green card that allowed her to work in the US, becoming a US citizen was a very BIG and challenging goal.  I helped her study for her US citizenship test and she passed it.

Then it was time for the critical interview where it would be decided whether she was given the right to become a US citizen.

I told her I would practice the interview with her. She was still a very shy woman and couldn’t look me in the eye as she answered my questions. She sounded very unsure of herself, even though I knew inside she had all the right answers.

I coached her until she was comfortable, could look me in the eye and speak with real intention.  Not aggressively, but with deliberate intent so her communication would fully reach me and have an impact.

The day came. She looked the interviewer in the eye, unfolded her story and consciously unhurried, said very clearly, very purposefully, “There are 3 men in El Salvador who will kill me if I go back. I walked for 3 days through 2 countries to get away from them.  I am safe in the United States.  I will be an excellent citizen.”

Her interviewer’s expression changed to kindness.

Then, with tremendous compassion, he said, “I am sure you will.”

I stood next to her during the swearing-in ceremony.  It was one of the happiest moments of both our lives.

The reason I do this work of teaching powerful communication is because many times the difference between success and failure is not because the person (or cause) is worthy or unworthy.  Unworthy can win and worthy can lose all too easily in this world.

What powerful communication does is it allows the worthy to win.

The power to transform any situation or any person begins with your ability to assume the cause role in your communications.

Be the cause!

Making it to CEO

Communication - CEO

He was a fire fighter.  Several fire departments had asked me for a workshop on how to achieve goals.  He sat in the front row.

Afterward he contacted me and said,

“I don't want to be a fire fighter anymore. I want to succeed in business. I'd like your help.”

He took on an opportunity to become a sales rep for a financial investment company.  Before becoming a fire fighter, he had been a cop.  He knew nothing about sales. 

I worked with him on the exact communication skills he needed to be successful and he rapidly became their top sales rep.

So, they made him a sales manager.  He called me and said,

“I'm in over my head, I don't know anything about managing people and they're making me crazy.”

We worked on the communication skills he needed as a manager. The sales department became extremely productive and they made him a Vice President.

He said,

“I had no idea there was this much to deal with as a VP, sales was way easier.”  

I coached him on the precise communication skills needed at a senior level. They made him an Executive VP, and then the Board made him CEO.   

Being CEO had a whole new set of people and leadership challenges.  He transformed each of them with out-of-this-world communication.

The company succeeded and expanded to the point where he purchased land and built an enormous new building to house all the additional employees.

At the stage where the company reached just about $1 billion and 22,000 accounts, Wells Fargo purchased it.  For a lot of money.

He met all his financial goals and started spending a lot more time flying his plane, riding his motorcycle, SCUBA diving, skiing, and generally being outdoors.

Today he works with private clients and spends most of his time volunteering to give back to his community. People listen to him with great respect.  He leaves them inspired.

He’s a leader wherever he goes. 

He succeeded because he did the work (and it IS work) to master the skill of communicating causatively in every situation he faced. He mastered a powerful, non-manipulative, authentic way to communicate, a way that removes every obstacle, a way that leaves everyone better off, everyone wins. 

He could have decided to be anything.  He still can.  He has the communication skills to make it happen.

Everything you want is on the other side of this skill.

Communicate causatively! Create the reality you want.

Ingrid

The person one wants to be

Communication - The person one wants to be

“I don’t do affinity,” she said.

These words were spoken by a young woman in her 20's who had recently graduated college and was navigating her first job in a large corporation.  She has great career aspirations for a leadership position.

She was beautiful and well dressed, enough to turn heads. Her face was expressionless and her eyes were cold.  She signed up for the Causative Communication workshop because she wanted to learn how to get other people to do what she wants.

As I coached her through the workshop, she did the exercises well, but with this coldness. I was in the process of coaching her to increase her affinity when she looked at me dispassionately and very deliberately stated, “I don’t do affinity.”

I asked her why not? And she said her attitude towards people was very neutral.  She said, “I don’t like you and I don’t dislike you. I’m here to get the work done.”

Even without knowing her exact back story, how she came to be this way (cold and beautiful), I could clearly see she had had a complete mis-education in the subject of people.

I had no doubt that there had been an intense period of confusion in her life, in the middle of which her solution to the confusion was to shut off her feelings. Young as she was, she had now done this for so long, she had no feelings for others.

She told me she thought that having affinity involved making (or forcing) yourself to like someone you didn’t like. I explained to her that you can’t make yourself like someone.  

I told her the real secret to affinity and then I walked away. I had a lot of affinity for her when I said what I said.  And then I left it up to her.

In the next exercise I watched her from a distance. She was different. She was smiling at the person she was paired up with.  It was not a big smile, but it was genuine, it had warmth. Her partner smiled back.

Her transformation continued from there into something miraculous.

“Cold and beautiful” melted into someone warm and alive.

She opened up the circle of people she was working with (from only 1-2) and ended up working with everyone in the workshop.  She was forming great relationships rapidly and people were responding to her with great warmth. She looked happy and astonished.

I knew she had never experienced anything like this in her life. She didn’t know I was watching her.  I wiped a tear and went back to coaching others.

At the end of the workshop she looked me straight in the eye and with a great intensity of feeling said, “Thank you.”   We didn’t speak, just looked at each other and shared a long moment of intense understanding and mutual admiration.  Warmth.  Affinity.

The reason she was able to transform so quickly is because the power and knowledge was within her already. I just had to give her a friendly reminder where to look.

I just had to show her the path to being causative.

Once you show someone the right path, they always do the rest.

You can do this too. You just have to make the choice to learn.

Be the cause!

How to melt a frozen heart

Communication - Melt a frozen heart

“I don’t do affinity,” she said.

These words were spoken by a young woman in her 20's who had recently graduated college and was navigating her first job in a large corporation.  She has great career aspirations for a leadership position.

She was beautiful and well dressed, enough to turn heads. Her face was expressionless and her eyes were cold.  She signed up for the Causative Communication workshop because she wanted to learn how to get other people to do what she wants.

As I coached her through the workshop, she did the exercises well, but with this coldness. I was in the process of coaching her to increase her affinity when she looked at me dispassionately and very deliberately stated, “I don’t do affinity.”

I asked her why not? And she said her attitude towards people was very neutral.  She said, “I don’t like you and I don’t dislike you. I’m here to get the work done.”

Even without knowing her exact back story, how she came to be this way (cold and beautiful), I could clearly see she had had a complete mis-education in the subject of people.

I had no doubt that there had been an intense period of confusion in her life, in the middle of which her solution to the confusion was to shut off her feelings. Young as she was, she had now done this for so long, she had no feelings for others.

She told me she thought that having affinity involved making (or forcing) yourself to like someone you didn’t like. I explained to her that you can’t make yourself like someone.  

I told her the real secret to affinity and then I walked away. I had a lot of affinity for her when I said what I said.  And then I left it up to her.

In the next exercise I watched her from a distance. She was different. She was smiling at the person she was paired up with.  It was not a big smile, but it was genuine, it had warmth. Her partner smiled back.

Her transformation continued from there into something miraculous.

“Cold and beautiful” melted into someone warm and alive.

She opened up the circle of people she was working with (from only 1-2) and ended up working with everyone in the workshop.  She was forming great relationships rapidly and people were responding to her with great warmth. She looked happy and astonished.

I knew she had never experienced anything like this in her life. She didn’t know I was watching her.  I wiped a tear and went back to coaching others.

At the end of the workshop she looked me straight in the eye and with a great intensity of feeling said, “Thank you.”   We didn’t speak, just looked at each other and shared a long moment of intense understanding and mutual admiration.  Warmth.  Affinity.

The reason she was able to transform so quickly is because the power and knowledge was within her already. I just had to give her a friendly reminder where to look.

I just had to show her the path to being causative.

Once you show someone the right path, they always do the rest.

You can do this too. You just have to make the choice to learn.

Be the cause!

Small change, big impact

Communication - Drop

He walked into the room like an executive. His presence alone calmed everyone. He had an air of dignity. When he spoke, he only had to say it once, everyone listened.

He wasn’t an executive, far from it.  He was an individual contributor.

But the power of his communication had the impact of a leader.

If you had seen him before he took the Causative Communication® workshop, you wouldn’t have recognized him as the same person.  He was fidgety, always in a hurry, very short attention span.  He spoke fast, in short bursts and he stopped listening the moment he thought he knew what you were going to say.

He had worked at the same large corporation for over 10 years, trying to get promoted, but without creating much visibility or recognition.

A year after the class, he had been promoted to Team Lead and then had 2 more promotions in very rapid succession.  He was now viewed as a charismatic and respected leader on the fast track to senior executive.

What was it he changed?

His speed.

Before the workshop he focused on doing everything fast.  We can all understand why, because in today’s crazy world we have to do everything fast to get it all done.  So he did everything fast.  Talked fast, listened fast. That’s what he did until the workshop showed him how to slow down.

You pay a big price for fast.

The price you pay is in the form of quality and presence. Both suffer.

Now I don’t know if you try to communicate too fast, but my hunch is that you probably know.

So here is a very simple shift you can make, right now, today.

Slow down.  

This does not mean be less productive or get less things done. It means slow down to the point where you focus on the quality of your communication, the quality of what you say, how you say it and the quality of your listening.

When you slow down, you make a much stronger connection with others, that deep human connection that enables all good things to happen.  You’ll achieve greater understanding.  

The quality of your communication today shapes your tomorrow, it’s how you create the reality of your very important life.

Be the cause!

How to disagree

HowToDisagree

Many people in my workshops tell me they want to learn how to disagree. Especially with their boss, or other people that are higher up.

It’s easy.  

Just say, “I disagree.”

I’m obviously joking.  You can see learning how to disagree is not actually what they want.

What they want to learn is how to get the other person to agree with them. That’s a whole different thing.

Last week I had an extremely competent woman in my workshop.  No one does her type of work better than she does.  She was very soft-spoken and very respectful of others.  She avoided unpleasant situations and frequently held back saying which she was thinking.  In a group she was especially subdued.

She was at manager level, but despite many attempts, never moved higher in the organization. She had almost given up making it to Director.

Everyone loves her.  She was frustrated.

It was especially tough for her when she disagrees.

The difficulty most people have when they disagree, is maintaining a deep human connection and a feeling of rapport with the other person.

If you lose these 2 things in a disagreement, you’re going to fight (and lose) a battle.

These 2 are the foundation for every great conversation and every great outcome you’ll ever have.

The mistake people make is they start disagreeing when there’s no real connection between them and the other person. I see this all the time in my workshops.  They’re so focused on disagreeing, they’re not focused on staying connected.  Do that and you lose.  Period.

They think the problem is that they’re disagreeing. 

Not true.

The problem isn’t that you’re disagreeing. The problem is that you’ve lost that strong connection with the other person.  If you never had it to begin with, it’s even worse.

Without the connection, you have no power

I have been receiving a series of emails from this woman in my workshop saying that learning these skills has had a profound impact on her life. She’s speaking up. She disagreed with her boss and swung him to her point of view. She tells me how exhilarating it is to have these skills and how strong, how powerful she feels.  She is dancing through life.

I predict she will be a Director soon, and then not long after, she’ll be a VP.

Build that deep human connection.

Then talk about anything you want.

The power of you

Crystal ball.jpg

I have sat through thousands of corporate presentations.  On the whole they have 1 thing in common: the presenters all look alike to me.

There can be wide differences in industries, job roles, status, audiences, messages, purposes, countries of origin, age.  And HUGE differences in personalities.  Yet, even with all these individual differences, they end up looking alike.

In case this is happening to you, I want to let you know there is a way out. 

You have to start by discarding any faulty education in how to give presentations that you’ve undoubtedly received.  It’s an education that makes individuals look like the masses and makes your presentations look like they were mass produced, not creative, not unique, not showing your true power.

Most people learn how to give corporate presentations by taking workshops and observing others.  The problem is that most training on how to do public speaking or giving presentations focuses on the mechanics and doesn’t touch the core of you.

The core of you is where your power really lies.  

Not in your hand gestures, not in your slides, but deep within you.  

This is what you want to have as your true source when you speak. 

I just wrapped up a series of workshops for 10 individuals in a tightly regulated pharmaceutical industry.  The problem was that all 10 individuals came across as tightly regulated too.  Absolutely no personality was in view, nothing unique to touch the audience. Their slides were cumbersome yet it was mandated they had to cover everything in the slide.  It was difficult for presenter and audience alike.

When they tapped into their own unique core, what was released was incredible. I actually started to cry during one of their presentations, even though I’d heard that slide presented 100 times. Suddenly what he was saying became REAL and I realized the tragic debilitating effect of the illness that their pharmaceutical product was designed to alleviate.  I had involuntary tears in my eyes imagining a young teenager having to suffer without it.

The core of you is very worth finding and nurturing.  Very worth expressing.

It doesn’t matter what your content is. 

What matters is that you communicate from the core of you. 

That is where you are truly causative.

The power of your look

Look.jpg

On my morning runs I encounter a mother taking her two-year-old for a walk. He likes me to stop and simply be with him. His eyes meet mine and stay there.  Very calm, comfortable, peaceful.  As I talk to his mother, he and I continue to look at each other.  He is looking straight into my soul and I into to his.  No words are exchanged.  His name is Dakotah.

I saw him again this morning.  Same thing, except this time there’s a clear sign of recognition in his eyes, a signal he knows we’ve met before, I’m a friend.  The look in his eyes says he is happy to see me.

He never looks away, nor do I, for many minutes on end.  No words between us. The most direct communication there is. Pure harmony and understanding, being to being, his soul to my soul.  Our eyes truly the windows to our souls.  We like each other, we haven’t even spoken a word.

All little children are born this way. I’ve delivered my programs in 30 countries and have traveled the world. They all look at me like that.

No adults do.

What happens between childhood and adulthood that makes adults so uncomfortable and tense looking into each other’s eyes, especially with no words being spoken?

This is a question I ask myself every week because in our Causative Communication Live! workshop I teach adults how to regain this lost ability and I always wonder how we let ourselves get so mixed up.

By the time we’re grown, we have suffered so many injunctions about looking and not looking, confusing it with staring, getting it all mixed up with manners and politeness, that we’ve been forced out of this most NATURAL of abilities by the most confusing set of rules ever invented.

My students go through the most wild experiences as they rehabilitate their ability to be there comfortably and just LOOK at another person. They feel an anvil is going to fall from the sky and crush them if they REALLY look at someone.  They are SURE the other person is going to hate it and get irritated. 

It is exhilarating, liberating and freeing to discover there is no anvil, there’s only the pleasure of experiencing another human being.  

The power and confidence it brings when you can look someone very comfortably in the eye, unhampered by all the discomforts of the confusing rules and threats society has imprisoned your spirit with, is a source of great energy in every conversation you’ll ever have.

When you regain this ability, the way you look suddenly transforms the other person. You see this all the time when people talk to children.  They are suddenly transformed when they meet a child. They are softer, gentler, the best of them comes out.  

You can transform the other person just by the way you look at them.

All the intensive communication exercises we teach for becoming a Causative Communicator build on this one key ability. You have to be absolutely comfortable doing this as you add each new layer of skill.

At the beginning of the exercise, most people can’t even do it for 5 minutes. 

These are super successful people who are not used to struggling. So it usually comes as quite a shock.

But I make it clear that everything they want is to be found on the other side of this skill.

It's a must have.

The power to transform any situation or any person begins with your ability to assume the cause role in your communications.

And you won't be able to do that until you can stand there and emit a presence so strong it will literally TRANSFORM the other person.

Be the cause!

Gently, with powerful Intention

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In my last article I talked about the power of unwavering, yet effortless, intention. This week I want to talk about how to take even this superior level of intention to an even higher level.

Back when Noah Webster published the first American dictionary in 1828, he stated a great definition for the word intention. He said intention is:  when the mind with great earnestness fixes its view on any idea, purpose or goal, and will not be called off. 

To be in earnest is to be very determined and deliberate in stretching towards an objective. To fix is to establish immovably, without wandering. 

Will not be called off means that nothing – nothing – can divert you.

Communicating with intention means that you will not be called off, nothing can divert you from your goal of being perfectly understood.

How you do it is very, very important. It requires the foundation of your being very simple, very direct, very clear and saying what you have to say with the complete certainty you will be perfectly understood.

If you add any force or effort to this equation, it blows up. The other person reacts to your force or effort and doesn’t hear what you’re saying. They then just want to defend themselves. You are diverted from your goal.

The key to success is to be and sound effortless.

And that’s also where the word gentle comes in.

Most people think gentle equals weak. They have good reason to think this. Most people who are thought of as “gentle” don’t have powerful intention and they ARE weak.

Gentle does not mean weak. 

It means not harsh, not rough, having a light touch, considerate

A gentle tone of voice combined with unshakable intention is powerful. It’s a thousand times more powerful than being forceful.

The word gentle has a most interesting derivation. The word originally meant of noble birth, high social standing, aristocratic.  In other words, high class.

You can see how this is true. Someone who is harsh, severe, arrogant, forceful, rough or brash doesn’t come across as having class.

You have an unmistakable dignity when your communication combines a gentle tone with unwavering intention.

I always make “before” and “after” videos of my coaching clients. In his “before” video, confronted with a difficult situation, a VP I just coached quickly started to sound irritated because I wasn’t doing what he wanted. He became a little forceful, then more forceful, and the conversation ended up going around in circles, without any satisfaction, frustrating to both.

It takes a lot of practice and coaching to develop perfectly executed intention.  We practiced for hours, until he could deliver all his communications (regardless of topic or difficulty) gently AND with perfectly executed intention. 

In his final video, he was confronted with two extremely difficult scenarios. In both cases he delivered his communication precisely, he was very simple, direct, clear, with a warm, gentle tone of voice and unwavering intention.  He came across as high class.  He was immediately compelling.  He only had to say it once.

There are other skills that are vital for complex discussions and difficult situations.

But without intention, there is no hope. It doesn’t matter how many times you say it, how carefully you choose your words or how right you are.

With a gentle tone and powerful intention, you only have to say it once.

When you communicate with that level of quality, with that power of intention, magic happens and you are perfectly understood. And funny enough, when people perfectly understand you, they can’t help it, they start to go into agreement. It supersedes logic. You have entered the realm of magical and causative communication.


The power of effortless intention

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Initially, when I start to coach someone on developing intention in their communication, they develop a stern facial expression and take on a “I really mean it” tone of voice.  They become rather forceful and sometimes even a little harsh.

This is especially true if they anticipate the other person’s not listening or they’re going to “resist“.

Most people, when it’s important and they REALLY want to get their communication across, say it a little forcefully, sometimes a lot forcefully.

I coached a very successful VP this week. He is brilliant, inspired, has executive level thinking, is passionate and results driven.   He’s a good man. In difficult conversations he starts out calm, but if he got impatient or irritated, his tone became antagonistic.  Afterward he felt bad.

Most people have a lot of trouble finding that precise zone where their communication is penetrating and effective, but not harsh.

That’s because they don’t understand the true nature of intention. Communication is meaningless without intention.

Intention is defined as deliberate purpose.   Purpose is the end result you wantDeliberate means that you consciously evaluated the situation and made your decision. The word deliberate implies the outcome is completely under your control.

When you are deliberate, it’s not so much that you’ve decided what you are going to say, it’s that you have decided the outcome.

This is the opposite of feeling that the outcome is “up to them”. Deliberate means you are in complete control of the outcome.

This is the essence of being causative.

Whether you are going for increased financial compensation, more resources, cooperation, gaining a new customer, a negotiated agreement, executive leadership support, agreement on strategy, whatever you’re going for, when you have intention, true intention, you have decided and are certain about the outcome.

This decision, in and of itself, has no energy, it simply is that you have decided. And you have decided with complete certainty. Certainty means freedom from doubt. Doubt means maybe yes, maybe no, you’re not sure.  Certainty means it’s definitely this, with no doubts.

There is no “trying” involved, nor is any trying needed because the decision has been made.

There literally is no energy, effort or force involved in intention. It’s 100% done on a thought level and not at all in the field of energy.

A big mistake people make is that when they want something from the other person, their intention becomes for the other person to agree with them. When you’re communicating, this is an incorrect intention. It will frustrate you. The more you try to get someone to agree with you the more you repel them, the harder you have to work at it, and the less result you get. Trying to get others to agree with you turns people off and is fruitless.

The only correct intention in communication is to be perfectly understood, and I mean perfectly.  People who come to me for coaching find it eye-opening when they discover how imperfectly they are being understood.  They had no idea. Most people don’t fully realize how imperfect the understanding is when they’re not getting what they want. Imperfect understanding is the foundation for disagreement.

Perfect understanding is not easily achieved. It takes skill. It takes intention.

 It requires saying what you have to say very directly, very simply, very clearly and, most importantly, with a complete certainty that you will be perfectly understood. When you communicate with that quality and that power of intention, magic happens and you are perfectly understood. And funny enough, when people perfectly understand you, they can’t help it, they start to go into agreement.

This is inside of everyone. It's inside of you.

Gravitas

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Angela reports directly to the CEO of a large organization and has global responsibility for thousands of people. She interacts directly with the entire leadership team.  It's a high intensity position.  The leadership team is composed of strong, stubborn, driven personalities.

She came for 1-on-1 coaching. Her goal was to develop gravitas and increase her ability to persuade and influence at the leadership team level. 

Gravitas is often expected in a VP or Senior VP position.

The problem most people have developing gravitas is a confusion about what it is and no sense of how to get there.

In the dictionary gravitas is defined as a serious, solemn, dignified manner.  

Serious is defined as sincere and earnest, solemn, no laughing.  Solemn is defined as not cheerful or smiling.  Dignified is defined as elevated self-respect, a feeling of being worthy.

Dignity sounds great, but gravitas sounds rather stern and grim. This is going to be rather difficult for people to sustain.

What if it doesn't match their personality?  Which in Angela’s case it didn't.

In other words, there's a lot of confusion around this word, imprecise definitions, confusion about what it is.  

Having said that, I understand what she was looking for and how to get there. I’ve helped many people develop what others would call gravitas

There are 4 key elements

Note – you can’t fake any of these. They’re skills that you have to develop by doing the hard work it takes to make them real.

The first is being there comfortably.  Most people who come to my workshops or for coaching are agitated. They're a little bit stressed, a little bit anxious. This strips you of any dignity. It strips you of gravitas. You have to be in the moment, calm and comfortable. When you are, it makes you dignified, makes everyone around you relax, get calm and take you more seriously.  Anxiety is a dignity-killer. It's hard to take someone who is anxious seriously because they don't create the impression they're in control.

Second you need to make a deep, strong connection with the other person. If you don't have that connection, that rapport, your words just bounce off.  When you have that connection your words penetrate and create a completely different effect. Clients tell me all the time, “I said the exact same words, but this time they listened.”

Third, you need to communicate with intention. Most people have never been coached on intention and they substitute effort, force and energy. All these strip you of gravitas.  Intention has everything to do with certainty and nothing to do with being forceful. What you see when someone has executive presence, when you see a powerful leader, is not in intensity of energy, it's an intensity of intention. The energy is incidental. Many very powerful leaders speak softly but with unmistakable intention. When you speak with intention, it gives you great dignity.

Fourth is your affinity.  Many people think that in order to have gravitas you have to assume a demeanor that is almost cold.  This will only work to make everyone cold toward you.  That’s not what you want. The warmer you are, the warmer they will be toward you and the more they will trust you.  Affinity is how much you like them.  It must be genuine. It's not something you project.  It's something you feel and it must be real.  Many people feel they can't afford to have affinity because they won't be taken seriously. The problem is never too much affinity. The problem, if there is one, is insufficient intention. Both affinity and intention have to be high.

It is magical that when you put these all together, you have what people call gravitas, you have respect, you have credibility. When you speak, people listen.

I haven't covered building a relationship, listening and other components that are vital to complete the picture and pull the whole thing off, those are for another blog.

My Lead Trainer coached Angela on these points, one at a time, using our unique coaching methodology. When Angela saw her final video, she cried. This is not a woman who cries easily.  

What she saw in the video: Her eyes were sparkling, she was completely comfortable, completely in the moment, dignified, worthy, she made a strong powerful connection, she wasn't forceful but her intention was penetrating, she was loaded with warmth and affinity and she was compelling. You would have followed her in a heartbeat. She was beautiful and powerful.  

She said, “I had no idea I could ever look like that.”  

We cried too.

This is inside of everyone. It's inside of you.

What it feels like to be great

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My greatest joy is seeing someone gain their greatness.

I recently coached a Director in a biotech company. Her presentations were considered very good. But she wasn't meeting her own expectations. She wanted to be great. 

It’s a level of excellence that’s not for everyone. Not everyone has it on their priority list to be a world class communicator.

I get the ones who do have it as a priority through the hard work and struggle. What comes out of it is worthy. The joy almost can't be expressed in words.

She just emailed me that she gave a talk to 3,000 at a major industry conference. Huge stage. This is what she wrote:

“The talk was amazing, and I’m going to be completely immodest here. It was the talk of the conference. I could hardly move the next couple of days because people stopped me every few steps to praise the talk, ask questions, ask for follow-up.

“I could tell after the talk who had been there and who hadn’t, because everyone who had been there looked at me with awe in their eyes.

“I was overwhelmed by the number of tweets stating my talk was the highlight of the conference.

I felt amazing up there, incredibly happy and energized. I was in the moment. There was a moment partway through when I felt how well it was going, felt the rapport with the audience, and thought, ‘I love doing this, and I am really good at it.” 

We're not supposed to feel this good about ourselves. It feels like we're breaking some rule. But, let me tell you, this rule was meant to be broken. This is exactly how good we should feel about ourselves.

It's not how you look, it's how you feel

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One of the first things I do when I'm teaching people how to master causative communication to groups, is videotaping everyone's presentations. So they get to see themselves on video right off the bat.

The most common reaction is that people hate their first video. They hate how they look. They're very self-critical.  They desperately want to change how they look up there.

It's not how you look, it's how you feel.  Most people have this backwards.

What you're feeling is communicated telepathically to your audience.  Human beings are incredibly telepathic and need no words to pick up exactly how you're feeling. It's the most influential aspect of your talk, it monitors everything:  how open they'll be to your message, how much they get out of what you're saying, how much attention and respect they pay you, how argumentative or critical they are and, most important, whether they buy in.

What you're feeling is way more powerful than how you look, your words, or your hand gestures.

I recently worked with a senior director who had taken another training program where, in an attempt to give him what they thought was executive presence, they taught him how to walk back and forth across the stage and do "big hand gestures". The problem was, he didn't feel comfortable or natural, so it looked artificial.  He sadly looked like someone trying to impress. You weren't drawn in.

There was a high-level woman, one of the best dressed women I've ever worked with, perfect hair, gorgeous.  She was extremely self-conscious and there was no warmth coming from her, so you admired her appearance but she didn't pull you in.

Both of them were posturing for the audience.  Not effective.

There was a high-level talent development/training director who wanted to come across as passionate so she could get executive buy-in for her department’s strategy.  She was feeling rather desperate. Her attempt at “passion” caused her to come across as trying too hard.  No buy-in.

I had a brilliant PhD design engineer who created absolutely dazzling slides.  Even though he was presenting hard data that was cutting edge and incontrovertible, he was scared to death. He came across as a terrified adolescent.

I also had a guy in sales who strode around the room, trying to look like he was connecting with everyone, inserting what he believed were dramatic pauses throughout his talk.  He was trying to look good, but he was feeling too eager to make the "close". He came across like he was selling, did not inspire trust.

None of them felt what you need to feel to communicate powerfully when you're talking to a group. 

First of all, they weren't enjoying it and enjoyment is vital. If you were talking to someone who isn’t really, really enjoying talking to you (perhaps only pretending to enjoy it), how much are you going to really enjoy it?  The same principle applies to communicating to a group.

I've had some people say, “But I enjoy it a lot! I love being in front of an audience and performing.”

Performing or trying to be interesting is about as effective as any showing off (which is all it really is).  When people get the feeling you're showing off, they get the feeling it's all about (and for) you, it doesn't touch them.

I'm talking about making a deep connection with each person in the room (or on the call if you’re virtual) and actually in the moment experiencing the rich emotional enjoyment of connecting with each one of them.

It's NOT an intellectual activity it's a feeling.  

It's a feeling of deep rapport with the audience.

You also need to feel relaxed, comfortable, confident and totally certain.  This slows you down considerably, enables you to think on your feet, really tune in to your audience and respond to their subtle non-verbal cues as you speak, thereby creating tremendous rapport.

The combination of these makes you look amazing.   

But the second you start thinking about how you look, you have too much attention on yourself and not enough on your audience.

Once you are up there, you have to FORGET how you look and create a feeling.  This feeling communicates powerfully to your audience and they start feeling it with you. 

I’ve coached thousands of individuals, including the ones above, and seen the amazing happen with each one, seen their full potential emerge, when they get this right. Each one of the individuals above is now someone you would love to go hear, regardless of what they're talking about, someone you just can't get enough of because of the feeling they create whenever they speak.

They don't worry about how they look. They simply get the feeling right, theirs and the audience's.

How to warm up an audience

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All audiences look disinterested at the beginning, unless you're Oprah, of course. 

I remember my first audience. I’d made the decision to be a professional corporate trainer, but as I was standing in front of my first group, looking at 20 skeptical, disinterested faces, I suddenly had no idea why I wanted to do this, and the thought occurred to me that I would be much happier if I just turned around and left now.

Well, that first time I was stuck. While I seriously thought about leaving, my feet didn't move and I started talking.

That was over 30 years ago and since that time I've learned that, unless the audience already knows and loves you, that's how ALL audiences look at the beginning. I often have cold audiences who don't know who I am and they look exactly like the very first one.

Many of my clients tell me their audiences are even worse, because they come in and immediately start multitasking.

So, how do you break through and reach the audience who looks like this, how do you get them warm?

By making a deep personal connection with each person. 

Focusing in on them as individuals, not as a group (this is very important). By putting your full attention on them individually and giving it your ALL when you talk to them.

I've had people ask, how can you possibly do that with an audience of 300? Here's how. You connect with each person briefly, so you have enough time to connect with all of them individually.  

This reminds me of an audience I had of 200 trial attorneys. The CEO of a very upscale, prestigious law firm hired me to speak to them about communication. Sounded good to me so I said yes.

When I got in front of them there was a wave of ill will coming from the group that just about knocked me over. Suddenly it occurred to me that this is a group who thinks they already know everything about communication and are only here because the CEO mandated it. I slowly realized that as trial attorneys, they were supremely skilled at silent antagonism when their opponent is talking. I was the opponent.

It was a wave of, “We want to see you fail” like I had never experienced.

As they introduced me, and I was eyeing the sea of hostility I was about to enter, again it occurred to me that I would rather be anywhere else. Alas, too late.

When I tried to connect with them as individuals, they repelled me with their eyes.

How do you penetrate a barrier like that?

I refused to be distracted by the hostility. I focused on the person BEHIND the hostility. 

As I was speaking, I put my attention on each person in the audience, penetrated the hostility with understanding, understood each one, one at a time, and delivered the full force of me and my message.

Many people think that during a presentation, understanding is 1-way. In other words the speaker presents, and the audience understands. This violates the natural laws of communication.

Excellent communication is predicated on 2-way understanding. 

While many people can do this 1-on-1, most people don't know how to tune in to others when there is a GROUP of them to tune into. But it's important and those who have charisma have mastered it.

So, as I was speaking, I was simultaneously understanding each person, one at a time, giving each individual the full force of my understanding. What they experienced was someone talking to them who fully understood them and WASN'T making them wrong for it. That's rare.

Let me explain what I mean by giving the full force of me and my message.  I don't at all mean that I was forceful, because I am very, very rarely forceful.

What I mean is not holding myself back, using both intention and vitality, combined with strong affinity and understanding to deliver my message fully.

Most people don't put enough of themselves into their communication to create an impact. Unfortunately, those who give their all often don't know how to ALSO make a personal connection with the audience, and so they speak passionately, but their message bounces off the surface, doesn't penetrate. The audience remains an audience of spectators, not an audience in rapport.

It takes both: a strong, deep personal connection with each person in the audience plus how you deliver the message .

It took about 5 minutes for the attorneys to fully warm up. I thought that was pretty good. It was a 2-hour talk, so we had plenty of time for the good stuff. And, when they warmed up, they REALLY warmed up. Turned into a wonderfully rowdy crowd and we had a great time.

Afterward, the CEO told me the evaluations were very good with a number of complaints. The complaints were that the session was too short and they wish they'd had more time. Considering they bill by the hour and the total billing rate in that room for 2 hours exceeds my imagination, I took that as high praise.

So, don't be at all dismayed when you first look out at your audience and see polite disinterest and feel that barrier or wall. Unless your rock band is currently playing on the radio or you’re speaking at your family reunion, that's how most audiences look. Even for CEO's.

But it doesn't matter how they look at the beginning. What matters is how QUICKLY you can turn it around and get them warm and with you.

The key points I've mentioned above always work, you can count on that. 

When new management rocks the boat

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When I talk about a LACK of communication skill, people often think I'm talking about people who are terrible communicators. It's NOT what I mean at all.  Most people who come here for workshops are already successful and very good communicators.

What I'm talking about are the skills to create change. Changing the other persons mind, changing the other person's attitude, changing their decisions, changing the outcome, changing their operating basis, changing how long it takes them to go into action, changing how much you get paid, changing how they listen to you, changing their level of respect, changing WHATEVER it is to match your concept of the ideal.  I’m talking about creating ALL the change you want. 

When people don't have the skills to change something, it always seems like it’s impossible and can't be handled. Often this isn't true because when they come here for training, they discover exactly what they need to do to turn that situation completely around and, after they leave here, they do so successfully.

Let me give you an example.  See what you would do in this situation.

One of my clients, Eve (not her real name), is working for a wonderful company that has great people, a fabulous product, and a gorgeous mission statement.  About a year ago, through a merger and acquisition, they were taken over by a group many in the organization referred to as “evil snakes”.

This new senior leadership team disrupted the entire organization. They got rid of, and demoted, the wrong people, including Eve’s wonderful boss.  They put their own inexperienced people in place. They didn't listen. They were arrogant. They proposed things that were ludicrous.  They criticized everything that was good. They were condescending.

A number of good people left. You can understand why.

Eve didn't.

She's not in a position of power, but she took it upon herself to transform the situation, not just for herself, but for everyone.

Her goal was to bring the new management group and the existing organization into collaborative harmony, and to educate the new management in all that was good so they’d appreciate and support, rather than destroy, it.

While most in her organization viewed the new group as villains, she learned not to villainize. 

She learned there are no borders for outstanding communication, that really GREAT communication reaches beyond all limits. 

She communicated freely to everyone, high and low in the organization.  A little bit here, a little bit there, always communicating, gently showing and guiding them to the road to success.

She saw wins from the very beginning. Small ones at first, then larger and larger. Until there was a complete transformation.  In only 90 days.

The new group is no longer arrogant. They listen and defer to the experienced members of the organization with respect and admiration. The last email I got from her she said they were working together as a "family”, they have trust and she added, “It’s authentic trust.”

She did not have the power, nor the position, officially to do this, she didn't have the authority, she didn't have permission, she didn’t initially even have anyone on her side, she didn't have anything except her own desire and her communication skills. She had to manage both sides of the fence.

I personally know what she’s done to develop these amazing communication skills. She worked hard to develop them, and even harder to strengthen them to the point where they stand up in a hurricane.  

When the hurricane hit, she was ready.

She communicated, listened, educated, enlightened, changed minds, got them talking to each other and created breakthroughs. 

She now has the trust of everyone in the organization, including the C-suite, even though she’s not at that level.

She is simply universally recognized as possessing a value that has no borders and no limits.  A value so high, she’s been invited to attend the most sensitive discussions at board meetings.  She has responsibilities and scope in her job role now that are extraordinary considering the position she started from.

Best yet, it's a great company again, everyone gets along, there's respect and harmony. They’re collaboratively accomplishing new goals, new missions. It's a great place to work again.

One person made that happen for everyone.  All it takes is one. You.

That's what I mean by communication skill.

The word skill means a great ability to do. The more difficult the situation, the more skill it takes to turn it around. The more skill you use, the quicker the turnaround. When you have a full range of skills, the turnaround can happen almost overnight. The more skills you use, the wider your impact on the world.

I have been teaching this subject for 30 years and I have certainty there is no limit to our, to your, communication skills.  

As well I know, once you have these skills solidly, you can feel free to imagine the impossible.

As Eve told me, “If you don’t communicate well enough that you can choose what happens to you, then the organization chooses for you.” Who wants that?  Yuk!

Communication skills set you free and put your destiny back in your own hands.

The secret metric of a really great presentation

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After you're done speaking, count the number of seconds before someone says something. The more impactful you are, the longer it will take.

If they speak the very second you finish, that means they weren't really with you, they were waiting for you to finish, their minds were already on what they were going to say next.

If it takes them 5 to 20 seconds before they speak, it means what you said had a profound impact and they’re absorbed in it.  It's taking them a little time to gather their thoughts.  

This is high praise for you.

The longer it takes, the more impactful your presentation. I've seen it take up to 5 minutes. And the audience still didn't know what to say. They were so moved.

What do you have to do to create this effect?

Many people think it has to do with WHAT you're talking about. It really doesn't.  I don’t know how many thousands of presentations I’ve seen over my decades as a presentation coach.  I’ve seen presentations on just about every topic you can imagine, most of them corporate.

I've had people tell me, This is a boring topic or This is an exciting topic.

There's really no such thing. I've seen seemingly boring topics made riveting and I've seen exciting topics made dull.

I've seen immovable audiences greatly moved. 

It has nothing to do with your status, your experience, or your topic. 

It has very little to do with what you say. 

It’s all purely about you.

It has to do with your ability to make a deep human connection with the people listening to you and to deliver your communication with great clarity and intention.

I had a student who worked in a semiconductor factory who gave new employee orientation training sessions.  In his “before” video, which was only 2 minutes long, he bored the audience out of their minds.

At the end of the workshop he gave the same presentation for his final video.  It was on fire extinguishers.  When he was done, the audience couldn't speak, and when they did, they asked me could he continue and tell them more?  Everyone was sorry it was over.

What he was talking about didn't change. How he connected with the audience and how he delivered it did.

He wasn’t more passionate. He was more connected

Big difference.

It has more to do with your heart than your mind.

One of my clients recently sent me a video of one of their senior leaders giving a talk at an industry conference for my feedback. Watching it, I saw a senior leader who did not stand out from the crowd. He looks like every other corporate senior leader giving a presentation. Interesting for the first couple minutes, then time for the mind to wander. This is what I saw:

  • He comes across as totally sincere and very brilliant, but weak

  • He has tremendous untapped charisma that doesn’t emerge during his talk – you can tell it’s there within him, but it doesn’t come out

  • He’d benefit greatly by learning how to make a deep connection with the audience vs how he is now, coming across disengaged – once he makes this deep connection, the audience will be totally blown away by him

  • He communicates very powerful ideas, but they bounce off rather than impinge – his message doesn’t penetrate as profoundly as it should

In point of fact, his presentation wasn’t nearly as interesting as the one on fire extinguishers. 

This senior leader, like so many others, has tremendous potential to win the hearts and minds of his audience once he learns this most basic of lessons:

  • You have to make a deep human connection. You’ll never do that with WHAT you say. It’s not about how passionate you are. It has to do with your ability to penetrate all the artificial barriers inherent in corporate presentations and to connect to other human beings.

Connect means to unite

People spend WAY too much time practicing WHAT to say. They don't spend any time practicing how to make a deep human connection.

But once you master that, you can talk about anything.

And when you're done, you'll count many seconds of silence, each of which is more potent than applause. 

Try it. Experience the magic you’re capable of creating.