A review of The Power of Outrageous Expression

The Power of Outrageous ExpressionMy good friend John Power who write in the Moulsham Times a local Chelmsford Magazine, wrote a review of my book 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 Yourself,

Be Kind to Yourself,

Practice,

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.

Find 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.

John Power

Buy Helene’s book here, £9.99 only.

Growing up and learning from the past

Letting go of the pastIn winter , it is a good time to reflect before fully engaging with the new year by letting go of the past. 

I used to be the enemy of small talk as I felt that talking about small things was just passing the time and, for me, talking needs to be about something of a deeper meaning, worthy of my attention. This arrogant attitude made me regularly say “I am not interested in talking about hair and nails, but I like talking about feelings and people”.

It was strange to understand that my willingness to talk about something of substance prevented me from deepening relationships with people and actually making long lasting friends. By showing a contempt for small talk, I have realised now that I have prevented myself from growing and learning. When meeting a stranger, I used to talk very quickly about my life, my aspirations, my ideas and, although people seem to be enthused by my enthusiasm, I have realised now that, more than often, they were put off by my directness and my over-the-top exuberance , and being bombarded  with information they did not need to receive straight away from someone they had never met before. I used to blame them for rejecting me as I thought it could be because I am a foreigner and that they could not understand my bubbly and forward manners. With reflection, I noticed that I was doing the same in France, during my younger years. Unconsciously, I wanted to get close to people very quickly, and felt that it needed to happen now!. I was failing to leave time for the relationships to mature and evolve naturally.

This realisation is not old for me but it has had three implications on my life:

1/ I have stopped blaming the past and my parents for this inadequacy. This has been liberating!  I changed schools so many times in my childhood that I had to adapt quickly and, in other terms, lose and make  friends easily. I wanted to get attached but could not as I was likely to move on. So I developed a shell to protect myself, so that the loss of friends was not so painful anymore. This has helped me to cope rather well, even if I am on my own. I now thank my parents for giving me this strength from a young age which has allowed me to be strong in difficult situations.

I can not change the past but I can change how I feel about it and then relish the  present in order to shape the future.  

2/ I have accepted that even if I do not like small talk, there is value in it, and that I listen more and talk less, not always though- still loves talking! I feel lighthearted in people’s company and, these days, much less desperate to make and have friends. I am more relaxed and happy as I will take what people give instead of expecting them to give (I can tell you I am still working on this one!)

3/ By being more relaxed, I have now accepted that some people will like my bubbly personality and will embrace who I am. Some others won’t and it is fine. Not everyone I encounter is going to like me and vice-versa, but with the people who do, and whose feelings I can reciprocate, we will be in a win-win situation. Our relationship will be able to grow and enrich both parties. As I heard once in a training, what other people think of you is none of your business.

I have made friends with the past and it is very liberating. Have you?

Helene is a dreamer, a poet, a trainer,  a coach, a mother, a daughter.  She is passionate about helping others to find their voices through her training. Get in touch with her helenemusso.com. If you want to book a discovery call with her, please get in touch on 07875627485. If you want to buy her book, click here. 

 

Be yourself, be proud, value your name, value YOU

A confident womenI have touched over the past few year the topic of being yourself and published a blog called being yourself and what it means to you. How do you start with being yourself? we often make it too complicated. Start simply with your name!

 About Your Name

Being yourself is first of all, about your identity.  It starts as simply as your name – Your name, who you are with that name  and where you come from.

I used to call myself “Helen” in my first six months of living in England.  But my name is not “Helen”, it looks like Helen, but it’s “Hélène” (You pronounce it Elaine really but it is still not quite exact , or maybe for the Anglo- Saxons, I should spell it LN, which would be close enough!). After six months of not replying when a friend called me-not a good one if you are in the pub waiting for a drink-  as it felt alien to hear these sounds,  I just thought ‘It’s not me!’ It wasn’t right, it didn’t feel right.   I could not respond to “Helen”.

In my desire to be integrated, I was denying my own core identity starting with the way I had been named as a child.  I had to accept that,  despite all my best intentions, I would never be English and did it matter anyhow? I realised later on, that my Frenchness in England was my best asset as I was different from everyone else and got noticed for being different. Especially I could get away for not queing like everyone else and bringing blue cheese to my childminder for my daughter’s packed lunch!

Recently my son was at the swimming pool, and he met a little friend in his diving class called Pip.  And I straight away said “Pip.  That’s a strange name” So I asked my son  to check if his real name was not Philip but it was not, it was Pip.  Then I reflected: ”So he must be called Pip, that’s what he’s called. Although for me it’s a bit of a strange name but that’s the way he is. It is him, let’s call him Pip.”

I think your name is paramount in defining YOU and it is essential to value your name for shaping and making YOU the way you are.   With the foreign nationals I work with, it is even more important to ask them what they want to be called , not what they think is acceptable in an English speaking country.

I recently worked with a South American lady called Maria. In my workshops I always make sure we learn all the participants’ names and call them exactly as they would like to be called, out of respect for their identity. When asked what she would  liked to be called,  she actually gave us the whole of her name Maria Carmen and she realised she wanted to use her full name as it was an integral part of her identity as a foreigner and so we did in the workshop. I don’t think she had ever been asked : what do you really want to be called?

Again, when someone uses a shorter version of their name, for example a Matthew might become a Matt, I always double check what they ultimately prefer to be called. When you call an individual exactly by the name they cherish or at least they are used to,  then you increase your connection with that person and very simply build rapport whilst showing respect for them as individual.

Now it is your turn!

Try the You Are Your name Show game

Have fun!

Recently in one of my workshops, I had two participants who did not like their names. My immediate respone was to feel saddened.

Then I suggested, ” Is there any chance you can change your name? If not, what about creating a story about yourself which would make you proud? What aobut inventing a story about something you wish has happened to you?”

There was a bit of confusion from the bemused participants whose immediate response was that this would be a lie.

“A lie?” I replied, “Are you sure? If it is a story that makes you happy and proud and enables you to live a more positive life, then is it not worth thinking about?

so now it is your turn, please pick up pen and paper and write or record on a microphone, or just tell a friend…

  • What is the story of your name?
  • Why were you given that name?
  • What is the origin of your name?
  • Most importantly what does your name mean to you?
  • Do you need to invent your own story?

 This blog is an extract of  The Power of Outrageous Expression. You can get hold a full copy of Helene’s book here.

Helene is a dreamer, a poet, a trainer,  a coach, a mother, a daughter.  She is passionate about helping others to find their voices through her training. Get in touch with her helenemusso.com. If you want to book a discovery call with her, please get in touch on 07875627485. If you want to buy her book, click here. 

7 tips on running a successful difficult meeting

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Following on a previous blog on 7 tips on how to prepare for a meeting , I had been strategic on preparing my “difficult” meeting. By difficult, I did not mean that the content of the meeting was difficult but that the person I was dealing with, I consider difficult.

Now if you treat people with respect and have the arguments on your side, then it is not that difficult and if you start with considering that there is no difficult people, then life becomes immediately easier.

1/ Change the vocabulary you use: difficult is not a very nice word. What about challenging, interesting, life-changing, provoking.  You can even use an antonym of difficult, for example manageable, straightforward, and uncomplicated and then you are in the flow

2/ Make sure you stay positive, just before the meeting, I was nervous so as I ordered some drinks at the Tesco Café, I started chatting to the gentleman next to me and even laughed with him on the heat wave and the work life balance.

3/ Start with the human touch: in this case a cup of tea and a cake, I bought an almond croissant as I am in England but you can adapt that to wherever you are, I also explained to my ex  why I do not drink coffee anymore and broke the ice by telling him a little funny  story around that.

4/ Make eye contact without staring but if you feel more nervous, remake eye contact on a regular basis

5/ Be prepared to listen, even if you are a chatty one. Listen first and let the other one finish his sentences, that’s key. I have realised for a chatty person, if you let the other one talk, they get even more attracted to you. You can also use that in dating and it makes you a better person in any case!

6/ Use body language mirroring, I did it about 3 times and just gently mirrored the body language of my ex a few times. You need to be subtle but it is a good technique used to keep rapport.

7/ Keep positive and focused: I was so positive and upbeat and smiled a lot that there was no way I could be defeated. I started with the chit chat and catching up, got to the point and put my arguments and my documents to back them up forward and then I mentioned the most controversial part at the end. By that time, we were both relaxed and the bad did not seem that bad anymore for either of us. We reconciled our differences and this was good.

I am going to finish by saying thank you to a few people who helped me the day before, my friend Rob who had ideas on how to present it positively, my friend Sharon who supported a work conversation and helped me to find clarity.

Helene is a dreamer, a poet, a trainer,  a coach, a mother, a daughter.  She is passionate about helping others to find their voice through her training. Get in touch with her helenemusso.com. If you want to book a discovery call with her, please get in touch on 07875627485 or email beconfident@helenemusso.com

 

5 tips on making a list to heal your heart

When compiling lists can heal the heart! when lists are compalingWhen compiling a list  can heal the heart!

When we feel stuck or that the world is against us, one of the best thing is to remind us what we have,  what we can be grateful for, instead of I do not want or I need this or I have to . When I am not at my best,  I retreat.  I get too much in dream land and less in real world and we need a balance of rest and reflection versus being active and occupied.  Too much time on our own or too little is not productive. Here are my best tips to get yourself back into this balance

1/Pause for a moment and think, allow a few moment of silence, look through the window, go outside, barricade yourself in the bathroom  I used to have a friend. Allow yourself to dream

2/ Value the reality instead of escaping from it. What do I have which is either material or emotional and make a list? Forget : what do I not have, or I do not want that. Order the list in importance, the most important should be first and prominent

3/ Forget judgment, just notice: Do not judge. If having money is more important than the kids that is fine. If work is more important than a personal relationship, that is fine too

The list is not set  in stone and should change over time anyhow. Why , because we are growing constantly, we are not just fixed for ever. Even if you feel nothing is changing, this is your perception If you are young, material possessions will be important as well as a job with prospects.

If making list is too much like work( if I feel I am working all the time, I end up resenting it)  or like things I have to do, use mind map or just doodle or a spidergram, either on paper or in a diary/journal or these days on the internet.

making list

4/ Make a list of all the people  who support you. If you feel unsupported, just remind yourself of the people you dealt with in the last few days and make a point to notice the conversations, the interactions. This week I want to thank Sharon,Rob, Steve, Chris, George,  Adri Ana , Rosemary,  Paul 1 and  Paul 2, and my children for being so alive.

5/ Listen to a good meditation tape. My favourite meditation at the moment would be Louise Hay. If you think you have not got time to listen then think again as it will make you so much more relaxed and you will be able to do so much more!

This is the end of my list for the day. Now I am off to have a good time with a light heart and a sense of direction. Simply, beautifully, that is it. Thank you for taking the time to read me.

Helene is a dreamer, a poet, a trainer,  a coach, a mother, a daughter.  She is passionate about helping others to find their voices through her training. Get in touch with her helenemusso.com. If you want to book a discovery call with her, please get in touch on 07875627485. If you want to buy her book, it is at a special offer for the month of September.