Thank you, John for writing this review and have it published in our local newspaper. Thinking of a book to offer at Christmas? a story from the heart to help overcome your fears and to support you to express yourself. Buy the Power of Outrageous Expression by Helene Musso
When Helene asked me to write a review of her book it seemed like a daunting task, because it is a book written mostly for women about how to develop their self confidence. However as I began to read it I realised that our backgrounds in teaching had given us a lot in common. When I first met Helene, maybe ten years ago, she was teaching Drama at Harlow College, and I was at Chelmsford College, teaching Art. I also worked for a mental health charity, as my Degree had been in Art and Psychology. The Arts and Psychology obviously have a great bearing the subject of Helene’s book.
We are all brought up in our own education to be square pegs for square holes, apart from in whatever Arts our schools have included in the curriculum. There we are given an opportunity, if we have the right kind of teachers, to express our individuality, and many of us find we are round pegs who aren’t going to fit into societies plans for us as a workforce, and have plans of our own. In the Arts there is very little need for competition: there are many ways of doing things, but in Maths 1+1 always has to add up to 2. Creative maths in any great sense is not a possibility. In the outgoing world of creativity almost anything is possible. We don’t need to be the same as others. We are all unique, and that is one of the main points Helene is putting across. She wants to coax her clients out of the shell that life has put around them to become themselves, and confident to be that way.
Helene looks at the polar connotations of ‘outrageous’ and what different outlooks put on them: “That’s dreadful, how outrageous”, or with a positive spin “That’s outrageously good, why didn’t I think of that?” Which one sounds to you like a Drama teacher talking? You have to have confidence to go on stage to perform in front of other people, so who could be better to coach people to regain their Mojo and express themselves with confidence than a person experienced in the Dramatic Arts?
So how do you start? Helene proposes five key elements:
Be Kind to Yourself,
Have Fun and
Discover your own Extraordinary Story.
So the first stage is going to be self searching: what is my unique identity, and how can I bring it out so that I work to my strengths? Simple things like a name change: maybe a nickname you picked up that is more about your real persona than what it says on your birth certificate. Mannerisms: watch yourself, even do a short video. What quirks do you have? Don’t censor them, use them, they are what makes you what you are. People watch others. You may find more mannerisms you’d like to adopt. We learn by imitation. You see, you like it, you do it. Practice it alone and only you will notice yourself, then in public as your confidence grows. When you are involved in a situation that worries you slow down and take deep breaths to give yourself more clarity of mind: that’s yoga. Turn a ‘problem’ into a ‘challenge’ or ‘opportunity’. But don’t try this without preparing: to be in authority you have to be an authority. Helene doesn’t mention dress, perhaps as women have less restraints when being themselves, but if you want to feel comfortable, wear what feels comfortable to you not what you think people want you to wear. Uniforms breed robots, and we’re not talking about corporate identity here!
Be kind to yourself: don’t struggle with words you find difficult, find simpler synonyms. Admit weaknesses, not pretend to be good at things you havn’t yet mastered. When things are going badly teach yourself to roll through the wobble, we all make mistakes so make fun of them rather than panic. Grab a nap if you can rather that risk mistakes though working when over tired. Relaxation is yoga too! Take little steps when learning, don’t try to run before you can walk. Rest, play, breathe, move, eat healthily, and don’t judge yourself against the way others do things.
Practice: if you’ve ever heard someone learning to play violin you’ll know what this is all about. You’d certainly know if it was too early to go on stage and perform…only when you are confident should you try. But you do have to ‘take risks’ as you come out of your shell, you can’t stay there for ever …. but gently does it. Safety before big risks. Move at your own pace, not others, as you expand your horizons.
Fun: that can be passive, like people watching. Make work fun. You’ll enjoy it more if you can. Dancing is good exercise and fun, and after a few drinks no one is taking notes on what you do. Learn from young children and you’ll stay young. Dream.
Your own extraordinary story. You may think its boring as it was the one you went through it, but with a bit of thought you can pick out the parts that make it an interesting story. Write your own eulogy. How would you like to be remembered? If not like that, get on and make it interesting!
Helene’s book is full of games to put over points she is making, and anecdotes of people’s transformations, along with stories by her clients, filled with praise, saying how her courses have brought about change. And of course it has to be said, as many of these stories do, that her very personality exudes confidence and charm without any stodgy authoritarianism, and that has to be her finest asset. What you see is what you get.
Buy Helene’s book here, £9.99 only.