Many of you have asked to hear the speech I gave at PechaKucha on 5 July… so here it is!
I’d love to hear how you top up your positivity tank, so why not take a moment to comment and let me know…
With thanks to Francois Rossouw for shooting the video, and Craig Strachan for adding the slide presentation for the total experience.
Wow! What an experience it was talking at PechaKucha Cape Town on Tuesday this week! While I admit I felt nervous before speaking, the high after all the applause was pretty amazing!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with PechaKucha, here’s a brief introduction: PechaKucha is a speaking format where you have a 20 slide presentation, and are given only 20 seconds per slide. PechaKucha is an international movement that began in Tokyo in 2003, and now takes place in over 800 cities around the world. In South Africa You can find PechaKucha in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.
We had a diverse group of speakers on Tuesday – including a rock musician, a furniture maker, a coach talking about prejudice, an environmentalist, a dominatrix (I kid you not!), and of course me – 9 speakers in total, so the evening was crammed full of great ideas!
I decided to test drive a new concept – topping up your positivity tank (i.e. your positive attitude) to help you manage stress and overcome challenges. My presentation was well received, with Andrew, the MC of the evening stating that it was one of the best PechaKucha speeches he’d heard. Please don’t get the impression that PechaKucha is only for pro speakers – at least 2 of the people who spoke on Tuesday had never given a presentation before.
Creating, practising and performing a PechaKucha speech is a little different from a normal speech. Getting your message across in 6 minutes 40 seconds is not too difficult, but adhering to the 20 second per slide rule makes for some interesting challenges.
I was somewhat startled when I was on stage and Craig indicated I was speaking much slower than I had been when I was practising. That may not be a problem with a 45 minute presentation – or even a 20 minute presentation – but when you are limited to only 20 seconds per slide it has a significant impact… I had to cut several words from each slide on the fly… which was definitely an interesting experience!
It was wonderful to see so many friends and colleagues braving the cold and rainy weather to enjoy an evening of PechaKucha – thanks especially to Francois rossouw for videoing my speech for me, Craig for the awesome photos, and the ladies from our speaker mastermind group, Women Who Speak for change, for coming along to support. You are all amazing!
If you can get to a PechaKucha evening I’d really suggest you go – there are great ideas being discussed! And if you’re a speaker… or have an idea worth sharing… why not give PechaKucha a go yourself?
To find out more about PechaKucha in South Africa… or to apply to speak:
PechaKucha Cape Town: www.pechakucha-capetown.com
PechaKucha Johannesburg: www.pechakuchajoburg.co.za
I was chatting to a potential client at an event last week and she asked me how she, , could maintain her positive attitude in a highly stressful job, rather than falling into the trap of taking on the negativity of those around her – a trend that exhausted her and which she sometimes ended up taking out on her family.
I think it is essential for us to top up our attitude tank on a regular basis, to give us the fuel we need to maintain our positivity even when those around us are caught up in negativity, and especially when we are asked to support and guide colleagues and team members who are experiencing challenges.
Sometimes we can counter the stress and negativity of others by remaining somewhat objective, but when we start taking on the stress of others, we need a different way to top up our positivity.
For me, spending some time on an activity that I really enjoy is a good way to do this – I absolutely love music and reading and often feed my attitude tank by taking a little time to immerse myself in a book or listen to a few of my favourite songs. Even having music playing quietly in the background while I am working through a difficult task can counter the stress to a degree. My husband, Craig, Is an avid runner and uses his running as a way of de-stressing when he gets home from work – recharging his attitude tank in the process.
What activities could you use to top up your attitude tank? Maybe spending some quality time with your children or partner, maybe taking some time to spend on an activity that you enjoy, maybe pampering yourself, or simply taking some time to just sit and do nothing.
Don’t be stranded with an empty attitude tank – top up as often as you need to help you move through your challenges and support those around you who are also experiencing difficulties.
Continuing the series about what it took for me to overcome the challenge of becoming blind, here are a few thoughts on the role played by positive attitude.
Attitude refers to a default tendency or orientation of the mind. It manifests by influencing the way we react to things that happen to us, usually either in a positive or a negative way.
If my default attitude had been negative, I probably would have responded to the news of my blindness by going home and giving up, being angry, bitter, dependent and depressed for much of my life. If my default attitude had been negative, I would have seen first those things that I cannot do and limited my possibilities accordingly.
But, because my attitude is generally positive, I was able to see beyond the devastating experience that had occurred, to pick up the pieces of my life and continue moving forward.
How do you respond when facing a challenge? Do you react with a negative attitude, and see first the problems and the difficulties you need to fight through? Or do you have a positive attitude and seek for whatever good may come out of that challenge, focussing on what you can do rather than what you cannot?
In my speaking, I tell the story of what happened in the aftermath of being told by the doctors that I would be blind for the rest of my life. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had a choice – to go home and give up, and be angry, bitter, dependent and depressed for the rest of my life… Or to go out there and see what life still had to offer me. Obviously, I chose the latter option.
Often I have been asked how that decision was so simple for me – why I felt it was the only decision that was possible for me to make.
I believe there were 3 main factors that influenced that decision.
- A naturally positive attitude that fuelled my desire to keep moving forward
- My refusal to let the blindness dictate my options, and to take back control of my life.
- My belief that my skills, strengths and resources would help me to deal with the inevitable day to day challenges of being blind.
In the next few articles on this thread, I will look at each of these in turn – starting with my positive attitude.