Speech Smarts

Is Your Life Contemplative?

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The unexamined life is not worth living.
– Socrates

A contemplative life is calm and thoughtful. More often than not, life is chaotic and challenging. Thinking through what makes life meaningful is worth some serious contemplation.  Listen to the rhythm of your heart, the music of your mind and the sounds of your soul.  Examining and connecting what you think with what you do is essential for better communication.  A few areas of life worth reflecting upon are your contributions, your compensation and your cultivation.

A lot of uncultivated speakers tell their audiences about themselves.  I have given a few too many “let me tell you about the wonderful things I’ve done” presentations.  I multiplied my mistake by ending only to ask my listeners how wonderfully they thought I was.  The results were not wonderful. People don’t care about what you have done, they want to know what you have learned.  Hopefully, we learn from our failures, although it is preferable, if not essential, to learn through other’s failures.  None of us have enough time to make every mistake ourselves. Serious speakers profit from mistakes.  They enrich their audiences by turning what went wrong into lessons learned.

So what’s the compensation for contemplation?  Spiritual tranquility, universal understanding, and the secrets of life itself? Well, not exactly.  The law of living, basically, says if you are green you are growing; when you’re not, you rot.  What do you get when you solve a problem? You just get bigger and better problems to solve. Challenges condition us to live.  Every challenge you overcome expands your capacity to handle problems. Communicating clearly is a constant challenge. It is a mistake to contemplate how to make it easier. The reward lies in thoughtfully considering how you can get better.

Your value as a speaker exists in how eloquently you can give yourself away. Authentic speakers open up to their audience and give a part of themselves.  Interesting speakers reveal what life has taught them and give their listeners lessons worth learning.  Terrific speakers transform their shortcomings and give others inspiration to become better. You can only give what you got.  The challenge for most of us is realizing how much we already have to give.  Every problem we face is just a gift disguised as hard work.  When we work hard to find the gift within the problem, we have something to give to others.  However, once you do the work, the challenge ceases to be a problem for you. Solutions to problems we have already solved don’t seem very valuable to us.  Give yourself a break, and your audience a gift, by realizing how valuable you become when you overcome the challenges in your life.

Cultivating worthwhile values ensures your contributions will be well compensated.  A contemplative life is not shrouded in silence and lived out alone on some mountain top.  It is a daily engagement.  It is a life that speaks vibrantly from the heart.  It is a mind which cultivates the capacity to overcome challenges. It is a soulful commitment to communicating valuable life lessons.  When chaos and challenges abound, it is the contemplative speaker whose voice is calm and thoughtful.

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About the Author:

David Nemitz has designed and delivered over 10,000 sales presentations, professional development programs and executive coaching sessions for corporations and governmental organizations such as the US State Department, The French Consulate, and American Express. When he is not helping others define and refine their strengths, you can find him watching the sun set over The Magic City or strolling through The City of Light where he lives with his wife Ninette.