Rama Siva interviewed 20 entrepreneurs for his book ‘Rich Thinking’. In this article he shares about how shifting his mindset has helped his speech and his life.
I had just cleared the VIP area of Heathrow airport, having taken off the diplomatic bags. Prime Minister Tony Blair bid me farewell and said ‘Thanks’ from afar. That will be an abiding memory that I will treasure forever. I had spent two weeks living my dream life in Barbados, where I had been working for the Prime Minister. Having fresh fruit and croissants, followed by a fried breakfast was the daily routine. Going for a run under the evening sun and a swim in the blue turquoise waters was the end-of-day routine. During the day, setting up secure telephone calls and monitoring communications was my role. This was my life.
It was the summer of 2005 and I was working in the Prime Minister’s Office. I had been on the McGuire Programme for four years. During that time the stammering had been under control. I had taken the opportunity to disclose to the Prime Minister I was a person who stammers and was working on my speech. He was very kind about it and told me to take my time when speaking. (This was very sound advice. I often watched Tony Blair practise his speech before a conference. Even the most articulate man in the United Kingdom practised his craft.) We also had a good chat about Michael Owen joining Newcastle. My job, at that time, meant I had to speak on the telephone, so it was necessary for me to communicate effectively.
Prior to the McGuire Programme, the stammer was out of control. The way I spoke made me feel ashamed and embarrassed. I struggled saying ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Afternoon’ on the telephone and would avoid answering the telephone if at all possible. Four years on in 2005, I would have periods of disfluency, and the shame and embarrassment had diminished, but were still there.
Now in November 2017, 16 years after my first McGuire Course I have written a book after interviewing 20 entrepreneurs. The book aims to help people live the life they really want to lead. It had been a lifelong dream of mine to become an author and speaker. I had the privilege of interviewing Allon Khakshouri, who is the former manager of tennis star Novak Djokovic. Insights I gained from Allon and others helped me realise the fallacy of my perceptions of myself.
Firstly, that separation is an illusion. You may think that you are just a human being living on this planet called Earth. However just like a drop of water is part of the ocean, you are actually part of the universe. In 1950 Albert Einstein wrote a letter to a grieving father who lost a son to Polio:
‘A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.’
Just like a drop of water is part of the ocean, you are actually part of the universe.
When I truly got this, it helped to release all the fears I had about myself and the way I speak. As a child I had no problem about stumbling over words and speaking. It was only when I was sent to speech therapy I began to think something was wrong with the way that I spoke. Having gained this insight about how we are all connected to one another and everything in the universe is Energy, how can I be judged about the way I speak? It is true that the reaction of listeners will be a challenge, and the only way I was able to become desensitised was to stutter on purpose, where I was in control of the speaking situation. It was only when I took charge and assertively spoke, that my reactions to their reactions changed, and so the healing within me started to take place. Fundamentally, I asked myself: How can I judge anyone else if they are actually a part of me? How can I fear anyone else if they are part of me? We are all part of the one universe, the one energy, the one being!
Creating our own reality
Secondly, your invisible world creates your visible world. It is with your thoughts, feelings, emotions that you create your experiences of the world. Brian Tracy says: “Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world, and it corresponds to your dominant patterns of thinking. You become what you think about most of the time. Change your thinking, and you will change your life.”
For a long time, I used to enter into speaking situations with the voice in my head wondering if I would stammer. I would build the situation so big in my head, that I would become paralysed and would avoid it. I avoided doing presentations by missing class. I avoided asking girls out and avoided rejection. I was Mr Avoid and life was passing me by.
Just by having this mind virus where I would doubt my ability to speak, the stammer manifested. Even though I had been on the McGuire Programme for many years I would still have that thought. My breakthrough came at the point when I went travelling. I learnt Spanish and went to South America. While travelling I met a lot of new people and for the first time in my life, I enjoyed talking. Even though I stammered here and there, it did not bother me. I was no longer the shy 15 year old who wouldn’t say a word for fear of stammering out loud. I was no longer holding back. I was saying Yes to life!
For the first time in my life, I enjoyed talking. Even though I stammered here and there, it did not bother me.
I could always read out loud or speak out loud when by myself. The stammer would come out when I was in the company of others. So I concluded there was nothing wrong with my speaking process that could not be dealt with by addressing the incorrect breathing, stress and anxiety which manifested itself as stammering when I was with other people. I know now it was just the thought of stammering which created the fear of stammering, and what actually happened was that I stammered. There is nothing to fear other than fear itself.
Thirdly, be happy and grateful for what you have. Look around you, there are countless others who are worse off than you are. Be really thankful for the life that you lead. If you can be really happy and grateful then the reality creation process will be easier. I believe that if you can see the truth that everything in the world is made up of energy, then by being happy, the universe will have your back and experience life through you.
Breaking down limiting beliefs
The progress I have made in removing the fear of stammering and speaking wasn’t an overnight success story. It has been 16 years in the making. I have made huge strides in the last 12 months, mainly due to the insights and shifts I have attained. One is realising at the core of my being that we are all connected to one another and there is no need to judge or feel judged. The other is realising that I can choose to be happy – my emotions don’t have to be dictated by circumstances around me. By feeling these changes, the stammer which had been central to my life has started to dissipate. That is where the real breakthrough has been - in my inner game, the way I think. I have gone after my dreams of being an author and speaker and this has helped push the mental barrier that held me in the past.
I have worked on the limiting beliefs that were holding me back! These included beliefs such as ‘I have nothing of value to share with the world’ and ‘no-one is interested in listening to me’. Writing a book and then receiving positive feedback on my interviews has shifted these limiting beliefs. Now I have the mindset of a person who is an eloquent speaker and writer who has lots of interesting information to share with the world. I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities to expand my comfort zone and blow away the cobwebs of limiting beliefs that had haunted my experience of life.
I am constantly on the look out for opportunities to blow away the cobwebs of limiting beliefs that had haunted my experience of life.
For those who are interested in reading more of my book called 'Rich Thinking', I have made the first 3 chapters of my book available at www.richthinking.net/facebook. Please do add me as a friend on www.fb.com/rama.richthinking as I love to connect with people.