There’s something about me that many people don’t know. I’m an internationally certified trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Most people don’t like the word “programming” because it sounds like brainwashing. “Conditioning” is probably a better term.
Whether we realize it or not, we are all conditioning ourselves and each other every single day. Simply put, we form habits; certain patterns of behavior we are not even conscious of. Some of these habits are supporting us, and others are sabotaging us.
For instance, we are conditioned to open a door the same way, every day. That prevents us from having to reinvent the wheel. We’ve done it so many times, it has become part of our unconscious behavior.
Some people have also conditioned themselves to engage in other behaviors that are not so useful, such as nail biting, smoking, overeating, and negative self talk. Those are also unconscious, automatic behaviors we feel we have no control over. And if you feel you can’t control it, you feel you cannot change it.
Traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy (and I am generalizing) attempts to treat these unwanted behaviors on a conscious level, using things like talk therapy. For some people this works, but for others it does not. And that’s because (according to NLP) you need to treat unconscious behavior at an unconscious level. You need to dig deeper, past the rationalizations and verbalizations.
How do you get to that subconscious level, you may ask? Well, that’s what NLP attempts to do with a whole set of tools that are based on the work of exceptional therapists, such as the hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, and family therapist Virginia Satir.
Anyway, my fascination with NLP led me to become a Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and eventually a Trainer. Presentation skills was a part of the Trainer’s Training, which I completed in Costa Mesa, California. I’ve always loved public speaking, but during one of my evaluations the head coach asked me a question that still has me thinking:
“Are you doing this for the music, or for the applause?”
He saw me put on a well-prepared performance, a self-serving ego trip that put the focus on me, instead of on the people I was hoping to help.
I was in love with the idea of being an NLP trainer slash public speaker, like a narcissistic musician who is more interested in show than in substance.
LOOKING IN THE MIRROR
It was a life lesson in humility that made me question my motives. Why did I have this inner need to be the center of attention? What did I need to prove and to whom?
Wasn’t I okay with the way I was (warts and all), without an admiring audience?
I thought I was helping my students by being “Mr. Entertainer,” but my look-at-me attitude was preventing them from hearing the message they needed to hear.
Once I dropped the pretentious showmanship, it no longer became about me, but about the people who came for support. I became a conduit, instead of a distraction.
What happened to me, many years ago, happens to many of the voice overs I coach. They love to hear themselves speak.
I have to remind them that we serve the text. It’s ALWAYS about the listener, and never about the speaker. Just as a musician has to do justice to the music and the intentions of the composer, VO’s are being paid to honor the intentions of the writers and the goals of our clients.
We bring our experience and expertise, but we leave our ego at the door.
We’re in it for the music, not for the applause.
PS On Friday March 25th I will be doing a webinar about getting noticed as a voice over, and how to boost your business telling stories. Click here to sign up.
Catherine Campion says
“We serve the text. It’s ALWAYS about the listener, and never about the speaker.”
Great reminder, Paul.
Super looking forward to seeing you again, IRL, at VO Atlanta next week!
Craig Williams says
Wise words indeed. It’s very rarely about how you sound. It is how you bring honesty to the text. Well said Sir.
Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt says
I think part of the ego is that we struggle for a long time with little recognition, so much so that when we finally gain some we feel we have finally been vindicated. We knew all along (ego) and now the public adores us.
As a novelist, I battle that one frequently because it takes me so long to write that the accolades along the way don’t seem nearly enough.
But it isn’t about me. It’s about the finished work, and very few people will be interested in the unfinished pages. My beta reader claims she’s learning from me, but everyone else is waiting for the next book, not to hear about how hard it was to write and polish them. MY struggle is immaterial; my characters’ struggle tells a story.
Either the published work satisfies readers – or it doesn’t. IF it satisfies, a few of the readers will have some mild interest in the author, but only because they liked the novels. Few would care about the painter’s ear if the paintings weren’t marvelous.
Hard lesson, but freeing. Finish the job, and walk away. Let it breathe on its own. Your ego doesn’t or shouldn’t be part of that.
Joshua Alexander says
As a voice actor, I’m essentially an actor. And as an actor, I am trained in performing. And as a performer, innately, I’m hardwired to want attention and to seek the applause, because that’s the end goal of a performance: a clap-worthy finale signifying affirmation and approval. I totally get this. And it’s something that I have to subtract from my goal as well…this article hit it on the nose. It IS about the music, it really is. Thanks Paul. And unless Catherine Campion knows something different, I will miss you next week. You are such an inspiration to me, and I love your music. Bless you brother – we’ll see you at the next one!