A Short Guide To Using The Force Like A Motivational Speaker

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So I went to a motivational speaker thing-y a little while ago and I really hated it.

First of all, I want to make it clear that I don’t think there was anything wrong with the speaker or what he was saying. But after about fifteen minutes, I felt like I was stuck in a room full of despairing souls having their brains happily tenderized by a mallet of charisma. Now, that’s not necessarily what was going on. There were probably plenty of folks in that audience having a perfectly good time, experiencing perfectly legit ‘ah hah’ moments. People weren’t being abused or manipulated.

But I realized later on that I was reacting strongly to the experience because I grew up attending churches like this. So I feel defensive—a just a tad bit cynical—when I find myself in crowds of people being whipped up by an admired leader-figure.

Anyway, in order to deal with my discomfort, I went into full-on analytical mode. I started taking down notes about the techniques this speaker had incorporated (consciously or instinctively) into his oratorical approach. I figured I might as well generate a ‘how to be a motivational speaker’ list while I was writhing inwardly in my business casual attire.

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February 20, 2015

Power Pose

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I had my picture taken at the end of July. My photographer, Kim Mallory, is a sensitive woman, so she quickly registered my anxiety, a surging awkwardness that made me feel subtly out of control of my own body’s movements. Kim is good at what she does, so she could deal. By the end of the session, her guidance had me smiling without so much tension that my teeth threatened to rocket out of my face. The portrait above was one of her later shots, taken after I became more relaxed and conversational.

I’ve been mildly dysmorphic since I was little. I’ve acquired the complement of attitudes and habits that mark the lives of mildly dysmorphic people. Fortunately, a combination of mindfulness training and lifestyle habits that reinforce healthy psychology has helped me to manage my tendency towards morbid perfectionism. But on occasion I do feel a twinge of it. Sitting for a professional photograph is one such occasion, I guess.

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August 21, 2014