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Will this ever come naturally?


Will this ever come naturally?” That’s the most often asked question to a technique guy like me. And I’ve always said, “Not really. It’s a constant chore to really do it right. And it’s worth the effort. If it feels too easy, you’re risking a ‘too relaxed’ mental state. That is not a good thing.” This is what the following piece is all about.

I’m sitting in a pub in Covent Garden reading the The Financial Times. There’s a regular column, Andrew Hill On Management, and today’s title is The Perils of Our Endless Quest for Perfection.

Stay with me because I’m not only going to quote Hill but also Philip Roth who Hill quotes.

First, a little context. If I encourage a client to do something as basic as talk louder when he or she is on conference call, they often gripe about it. If I tell someone to speak in one syllable classic English…to say “It’s my job and I’m on top of it,” instead of “It’s my functional responsibility and I’m prepared to initiate the process,” they gripe about it. They constantly say, “It doesn’t feel natural.” And I say, “Good. If you start to feel totally comfortable, you’ve dropped right back to who you were before we started working together.”

Philip Roth is getting a lot of attention. He died this past week. He writes about Roth, “…he used to worry when his writing came too easily.” Roth said, “…fluency can be my signal to stop, while being in the dark from sentence to sentence is what convinces me to go on.”

Hill also quotes Mike Brearley, formerly England cricket captain, who puts technique first “In his book, On Form, his nuanced reflection on how to function at our best, he writes, ‘Without effort and struggle we will never be proficient enough to let go of control with any chance of success.’

So, soldier on when you get a tip to make you look and sound better and it’s not “you.” If everyone who ever walked into one my seminars heard me say, “Here’s the big takeaway everyone: relax and be yourself,” they could all turn around and leave. Seminar over.

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