"The compulsion to excellence assures excitement!"

-- Robert Schuller

by Jean Hamilton

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Mikhail Baryshnikov perform. At 56, he is no longer at his physical peak-though admittedly his body is still exquisitely toned. Leaps that used to linger in the air so long that they defied gravity were no longer a part of his repertoire. Even so, he was absolutely riveting. I wondered if the reason I found him riveting was that he was "Baryshnikov" -- one of the greatest dancers of our time.

But I realized that the reason he was so compelling was his total, complete focus. Every fiber of his body was completely committed to each movement. He made each small nuance resonate. He also embraced looking like a fool. Some of the choreography required him to essentially be a dork, and the former premiere ballet star, did that with complete abandonment and joy. And the audience loved it!

Another thing I admired about Baryshnikov was his ability to receive applause. I have often witnessed (and felt) a piece of invisible armor go around people's chest when the audience applauds. Often the performer shrugs off the applause "Ah, shucks, that was no big deal. Please stop." But to witness Baryshnikov so utterly at home and relaxed as his standing ovation lingered on and on was truly wonderful to witness. It is a joy to see someone wholeheartedly receive appreciation. By honoring our applause, he honored us.

Remember that the next time you receive a compliment. Rather than discard it with embarrassment, receive it and honor the person giving you that gift. Whatever we are doing, whether giving a presentation, running a race, or reading a book to a child, the more immersed you allow yourself to get, the more you honor the activity, yourself and all of the people involved. And remember to embrace your fool -- it makes life much more fun.

Copyright (c) 2004
Jean Hamilton, Speaking Results, Seattle, WA, USA
Visit http://speakingresults.com/ -- "Get Results: Take Your
Speaking to a New Level"

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