Why I'm an Educator

Many people think “education” stops with school and is replaced by “training” in business.  They’re missing the true, very uplifting, definition of education.  I thought you might like this exploration of words and their meanings, the precise words that define a very liberating experience.

I’ve been in the business world for over 30 years.  I’ve been called a consultant, trainer, coach, instructor, and instructional designer.  Because I’ve specialized in working with large corporations, the word “educator” has hardly ever been used.  And yet, that is how I see myself.  Let me tell you why.

The word “education” came from “educare”, a Latin word meaning “to lead out”.  Despite many examples to the contrary, it has nothing to do with “depositing information into another person.”

Education’s not a “putting in.”  It’s a “leading out.”

The real definition of “education” can be found in Webster’s New World College Dictionary which says education is the process of developing the latent faculties and powers of a person.  Let’s take these words apart and see what they mean for you.

“FACULTIES” are exceptional abilities or aptitudes.  Think of faculties as a whole package of abilities that combine to create far beyond ordinary competence.

“LATENT” means present but not actualized.  Actualized means “made actual or real.” Latent means these abilities are there … but are not yet revealed or visible.  You can’t quite see them yet.

“POWER” means a great ability to produce a result.

“OF A PERSON” – “Of” means “belonging to” – this means, these abilities and powers already belong to you.

“DEVELOP” means to take from one stage of growth to another.

“PROCESS” means how you do something.

Good education is the process of developing your latent faculties.  It helps you take your latent powers from one stage of growth to another until they are fully visible and under your complete control.

Your latent faculties or powers can be at any stage of development.  What’s important is that they ARE there inside you already; they belong to you even now.  True education just develops them, one stage to the next, until they are fully revealed.

How latent can they be?  Well, they could just be a seed.  If you’re reading this, you’re at least aware of something inside you that could be great.  That’s a seed.

Or perhaps the seed has sprouted and this ability is growing – underground.  It hasn’t broken soil yet where others can see it.  You can feel it emerging, but right now, you’re the only one who sees it.

Perhaps your plant has broken soil and is now a tiny green shoot above ground.

Or perhaps the plant has grown taller and is starting to actually look like something.

Wherever you are in these stages, a great educator takes you from one phase through all stages of development until you arrive at your own sense of, “WOW!”

The important thing to know is that you already have powers, meaning you have great abilities to produce results, whether that power is a seed or a visibly growing plant … you’re capable of all I’ve written here.

Perhaps someone has stepped on and squashed your plant before it had time to grow.  Education helps you with that too.

True education simply helps you keep developing your faculties and powers, leading them out, until you’re unmistakably powerful.

Sincerely,

Ingrid

Ingrid's Social Media

Do your presentations look and sound like everyone else’s?

Tell me if you’ve noticed this. I’ve sat through countless presentations and coached thousands of presenters.  There are wide differences in their industries, job roles, personalities, audiences, messages, purposes, outcomes hoped for, ages, countries of origin, status, expertise and prep time (from 0 to weeks). 

Yet with all these individual differences, 99% of the presenters and presentations (whether the audience is internal or external) are tediously (and I mean tediously) similar to every other corporate presenter and presentation.  Have you noticed this?

Yes, some slides are better than others.  Yes, occasionally there’s a brief moment that glimmers or a rare shining star that appears and captivates. 

But on the whole, the absolute deadly predictability of a corporate presentation is enough to make the average audience walk in and immediately set up laptops and cell phones to multi-task.  It’s enough to make most audiences wish it were over well before it actually is.  Have you ever felt that?

I can totally help you escape this trap with your own audiences. 

It’s the dreadful sameness that strikes the first lethal blow to your audience’s interest.

I’m betting you’ve gotten caught up in this.  I’m betting that you know it, that the presenting you’re doing now is frustrating, hit-or-miss and doesn’t feel like YOU.  I’m betting that you know you have it in you to really hit it out of the park, but you haven’t yet stumbled on the magic formula for you.

It’s not your fault.  Maybe you’re like many people I work with who have already had coaching on their presentations.  Many have taken 2 or more workshops where they’ve been personally coached.  And the net result is okay, maybe they have a bit more vitality, but they’ve all been coached to look and sound the same.

People who haven’t had coaching are doing the next best thing … they’re looking around and imitating, or hoping to copy, the “best” presenters available.  Copying is BIG.  But since the presentations you see around you aren’t good presentations, copying them doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  It’s the absolute last thing you should do.

I have no doubt that in 1987 whoever gave the very first corporate presentation using PowerPoint had the audience spellbound in the palm of his (or her) hand.  I have no idea if this person was any good as a presenter.  I have feeling they were a lousy presenter … and that everyone since has been imitating him/her.  How else can you explain this appalling uniformity?  Once the initial novelty of PowerPoint wore off, we were left with ghastly deadly dull presentation techniques that keep repeating and multiplying through generations, decade after decade. 

So, you can’t help it.  You live in a world of vile presentations which have been overdone to the point of ubiquity.

There is a better way.  There are 3 things you need to do to release yourself from this trap of horrifying conformity:

1) The answer is to be completely fresh. The dictionary defines “fresh” as “not known or seen before, never existing before, produced for the first time, refreshing”.  I’m talking about complete never-been-seen-before newness.  I’m talking about taking an approach that is being seen for the first time.  I’m talking about real creativity, the kind that bursts forth spontaneously and with genius. 

You can begin to find it within you once you decide to stop imitating every other sub-standard presenter and strike out on your own path.  The question to ask yourself, as you prepare your presentation is, “Have they ever seen anything like this ever before?”  If the answer is, “Yes”, scratch it.  Just scratch it.   If the answer is a resounding, “No!” and you find yourself getting excited, you’re getting warm. 

It doesn’t take more time to do this.  I just takes your decision to not do what everyone else is doing.

2) You need to emancipate the real you. Most people are incredibly inhibited, constrained, restrained, suppressed, repressed, guarded, reserved and WAY too conservative when they have to do any public speaking or presenting.  Their own self-conscious uncertainty about how they’re coming across to the audience keeps them from being themselves, keeps them stiff and unnatural. 

You need to quit worrying about what the audience is going to think.  Quit worrying about whether they’ll like you.  They for sure aren’t going to like you if you’re embarrassed or worried about whether they’re going to like you. 

You need to be entirely comfortable being 100% yourself.  This is who the audience will fall in love with.  The more fully you liberate the real you, the harder and deeper they will fall in love with you.  I’ve seen this a million times over.  The real you is not like anyone else and the audience can’t get it anywhere but from you.  The more “you” you release, the more gripped the audience will be. 

3) You need to tell the truth. In your own words.  One of the things that makes every presenter sound like everyone else is because most of them out there are telling the audience what they think the audience wants to hear.  They are sanitizing the truth, slanting the words, the message, in an attempt to try to appeal to, and create an effect on, the audience.  Audiences hate that.  They just do.  The harder you try to “Wow!” or impress or persuade them, the more, “under-Wow’ed” they become (and the more they feel sorry for you). 

However, the more naked truth you put into your presentation, and the more you say it exactly how you would say it, over lunch to someone you totally trusted and didn’t worry about,  the more you say it exactly that way, well, the audience will be magnetized.  

Don’t be scared to say it.  Unvarnished, raw truth is an audience magnet. 

Let me give you another tip.  Don’t hire any presentation coaches that teach you hand gestures or body movements they’ve taught anyone else.  Or ones who believe there are 4 personality types (come on, we both know there’s no one like you).  They're just trying to get you to look and sound like everyone else.  Ugh.  When you liberate the real you, believe me, your movements and hand gestures will be magnificent, and they won’t be like anyone else’s. 

When you become totally fresh, completely in the moment, totally yourself, capable of speaking unrestrained and unvarnished truth straight from the heart … your audience will put their cell phones away, shut their laptops and allow themselves to be swept away by your awesomeness.  It’s as predictable as the law of gravity.

 

Ingrid's Social Media

The Look in Your Eyes

The look in your eye tells me everything I need to know.  I can tell by the look in your eye if you are going to win, barely maintain, or lose.

What is it I see?  I see the strength of your intention.  The strength of your intention tells me how it’s going to turn out for you.

Intention is not generally well understood.  Back when Noah Webster published the first American dictionary in 1828, he stated a great definition for it.  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. 

To call something off means to decide it will not happen.  Will not be called off means that nothing – nothing – can make you decide that the outcome you want might not happen.

The word intention comes from the Latin word intentio which meant a stretching out.

Intention is when you have decided the outcome that will happen in advance and this decision is so strong, the only outcome possible is the outcome that you decided. 

Intention is certainty.

I first saw Stephen Curry play basketball in March 4, 2013.  I knew nothing about the Warriors.  The last basketball game I went to before this one was before the turn of the century.  I went to this game because it was a special event for Lithuanians (I’m Lithuanian – the relationship between that and basketball is a story for another day).  That night the Warriors were 2 years from winning the 2015 NBA Championship … with no sign they would win. 

I saw the look in Stephan Curry’s eyes and knew.  I knew he was a star.  I knew the Warriors would go on to win the NBA Championship and that it wouldn’t happen right away (because I didn’t see the same look in everyone else’s eye).  I knew he would uplift the team.  I knew he would uplift the city of Oakland (which you know he did in a big way if you were at the amazing celebration after they won).  I saw that much intention in his eyes.

I wasn’t watching how he played … I was watching the look in his eye.  The intention was unmistakable.  I rarely see that much intention in others and was powerfully impressed.  Look at those eyes.  You can see from the look in his eyes:  he will not be called off.

So, I did something I have never done in my life …. On March 4, 2013 I started following a sports team.  I’ve enjoyed every moment, but I have not been the least bit surprised as the story unfolded and we’ve witnessed the Warriors become one of the best teams in NBA history.  With Stephen Curry as one of the best players ever.

Earlier this week they lost the 1st game of the NBA Western Conference finals to Oklahoma City Thunder.  I wasn’t surprised when this happened either.  I saw the look in their eyes before the game.  I wasn’t looking at anything physical or how they were playing.  Just the look in their eyes.  Intention had diminished.

Yesterday morning, hours before their 2nd game, I read an article by local Sports writer, Tim Kawakami.  He saw the Warriors at practice the day before and wrote:  “Stephen Curry had the look, Draymond Green had the look, Andrew Bogut had the look, Andre Iguodala had the look, Steve Kerr had the look.  Even team Consultant Steve Nash, in a rare practice visit had a unique kind of focused/relaxed/super-alert look on his face at Warriors headquarters.”

I thought, “Ahhhhh …. They’re going to win tonight ….”  And they did.  What a game.

How does this relate to you?  How do you get enough intention to give you that look in your eye?  How do you become the Stephen Curry of your world?

It’s not physical.  It comes from within.

What kills it is uncertainty, doubt, indecision.  Most people have a hard time completely eliminating these from their thoughts.  But that is what it takes.  Making an unwavering decision about an objective and not allowing yourself to be called off.  Very simply, you make a decision and the decision is that strong.  No “maybe yes, but maybe no”.

Don’t confuse this with stubbornness, aggressiveness, force or bullying.  Intention is none of these.  People with these qualities (qualities that drive others away) always have very little, if any, true intention.  Intention is a decision and a consideration – it’s at the level of thought, not energy - and has nothing to do with force.  People with high intention are also capable of extremely gentle and warm communication and very respectful listening – as you can also see with Stephen Curry.

No one can diminish your intention but you.  No one can increase your intention but you.  Your degree of intention has nothing to do with your environment or your circumstances.  We would like to assign responsibility for what happens to us elsewhere because it lets us off the hook. But it’s not the truth.  People had told Stephen Curry he wasn’t going to make it as a basketball player.  He never let it monitor his intention.

His certainty about winning is so great, he doesn’t even turn around to look to see if his shot went in.

The general population doesn’t fully realize how vital intention is.  They don’t realize they didn’t succeed because they didn’t have enough intention.

I’ve worked with losers, mediocre performers and rock stars in their profession, including the world’s foremost experts in their field.  The biggest distinguishing factor is their intention.  I’ve seen amazing stories (and I know you have too) of people, when the world was against them and intention is ALL they had … and they won.

Intention is like a muscle.  It’s one of your greatest capabilities.  The more you exercise it, the bigger it will grow.  You have it in unlimited quantity.  You create it. 

There is nothing you can’t do.  There is no dream that is unattainable for you.  Your intention is powerful magic.  Stretch toward that objective you want.  Make that decision to win.  Decide to have certainty and confidence, complete freedom from doubt about winning.  Don’t be called off.  Use your intention to make it happen.  And win.

The world will see it in the look in your eye … and know that you are a winner.

Ingrid's Social Media

The Difference Between Women and Men

If you asked my father about the difference between women and men, he would have said men were better drivers (something he commented on frequently while driving, my mother, sister and I surrounding him in the car, talking over each other to argue him down).  He certainly did like to provoke us.

In the 1980’s we did a survey and found men thought women talk too much and women complained men didn’t listen.  Now, there’s a recipe for frustration!

Two weeks ago I worked with a group of all women.  Last week I worked with a group of all men.   These two groups made me take a fresh look. 

The women were interested in talking about communication at work.  The men were interested in talking about communication at home with their spouses and children.  Isn’t that interesting?

The women needed more coaching on how to get their communication across, how to be fully understood, the art of delivering a compelling message.  They needed a boost in confidence, were concerned about their credibility and being heard.  One woman, for example, practiced telling her co-workers they need to improve the quality of their work (difficult for her to do initially without shrinking into herself). 

The men needed more coaching on how to listen, how to really give their full attention (and I mean truly undivided attention) and be strongly interested all the way through to the end.  The guys initially had trouble making it even to the 30 second mark before “checking out”.

What was interesting to me was that you could say they did fit stereotypes …. but only at the beginning of the training.  Not at the end.  By the end of the training they were all excellent communicators, each with their own unique style and charisma, no two alike, extremely distinct personalities.  You would look at them and think, “You are truly you; you are truly one of a kind.”

I had a stunning realization.  People fit stereotypes when they are missing communication skills.  An engineer who doesn’t know how to start and carry a conversation gets labeled an “introvert”.  A sales guy who pushes his message without listening is called a “typical sales guy”.  Stereotype labels abound:  emotional, aggressive, geek, insensitive, millennial, etc, etc, etc.  Anytime someone uses the word “typical” a stereotype follows.

But, this is what I see over and over again.  Once they have the full range of communication skills, no one ever again fits a stereotype.  Stereotypes put attention on what is lacking, what is missing in communication.  When this is remedied, the power of a person’s communication defies stereotypes.

You can see this with historical figures who were extraordinary communicators.  Mahatma Gandhi was a typical what?  Margaret Thatcher fits which stereotype?  Winston Churchill was just like whom?  Nelson Mandela is a classic what? 

Even today:  Arianna Huffington is just like which other person you know?  Oprah reminds you of what group of people who are just like her?  Bill Clinton is in what category?  Sheryl Sandberg reminds you of whom?  There is no one like any of them.

Why does extraordinary communication seem so rare?  Because few people master all of it.  Communication doesn’t require one or two skills – it requires the mastery of at least 20 separate skills (I’m being very conservative here) and the ability to weave them all together effortlessly during conversations or presentations, usually while thinking on your feet. 

That’s where training in communication skills comes into play.  Good instruction helps you take your skills from where they are today to exceptional, so that when you communicate, you are truly you, and there is no mistaking that. 

We tend to stereotype or label when we can’t communicate to someone.  Communication is the only thing that opens the door to true understanding. 

Next time you find a label or stereotype filling your thoughts about someone, take a look and see how you can take your communication with that person to the next level to reach the full understanding that will satisfy you.

Ingrid's Social Media