Changing Your Life’s Work

In today’s continuously transforming world, where you see yesterday’s plans and assumptions suddenly upended, people’s jobs and life’s work suddenly whisked away, we can all be challenged to question our assumptions and re-think our plans, our choices and our careers. Sometimes that confrontation is thrust at you and sometimes it simply grows out of that age-old question—“Is that all there is?”

I’ve asked myself that question and made a major change in my own life now. And I’m writing this blog to explore why and to hope that in this exploration I can help those who also question what’s next or who are compelled to answer that question.

I’ve asked myself “is that all there is?” nine times before this and each time I changed the course of my career and developed a new one. The standards were always about values—about what needed to be done in the world next, about what kind of social change should we be effecting. And after I determined that no one else was doing it, I’d turn my efforts into making that happen., I had great good luck in actually following my passions and doing it—nine times!  Going from musician to dancer to college prof at Radcliffe to television’s PBS teaching the arts to cultural reporting on Boston TV’s nightly news to my own TV talk show to creating the field of jury consulting and communicating at Harvard’s Law school, lecturing and authoring books, consulting on major cases, reaching millions as a contributor on national TV to business communication guru, author, lecturer, coach again —– until now.

Although I still do the consulting, lecturing and coaching, I’ve added number 10. This one’s not about changing the world anymore. It’s back to my roots as a performer and artist. Narrowing the focus. Going inside and in a very close, personal way, reaching out to a few people at a time as an actor, saying and showing what I think and feel through the words of others.  What a new voyage of discovery!! Not only of myself but of others who wanted to touch the world, to learn what they had to say and how they chose to say it. And you know what? I’m really doing it! I’m actually starring in a new play in New York in June, doing a performed reading of another and I’ve just done a short film up at Yale!

Why do this? Why the great effort to forge yourself into yet another framework? To learn and become something you haven’t been before? And at this time of my life when it might be time to consider a little coasting?

Because I’m here ! And alive! Looking to taste what I haven’t yet tried—to find out how this person-with what’s she’s learned and lived through — will process yet another aspect of our universe. And as for the courage to change? To try something new? The passion carries me right through the doubts and fears. “Let’s find out! Try it! If it doesn’t work, nothing terrible has happened. And if it does, what new seas shall you now sail on? What other Sonya Hamlin will you find there?”

So look to your passions. To what you always wanted to do or what you’ve discovered that you might like to try. Dare. Turn a deaf ear to the judgmental “What?”s you will hear. Find out who else is inside. Whom have you been carrying around all these years?  Grow forward. Don’t retreat or fold. Squeeze new adventures out of your time here…

Presenting Yourself Face to Face

As I enter into the blogosphere, I want to be extremely practical and useful. To write about something that both helps everyone become more effective and secure in their work and also brings some new information about that most powerful weapon—communicating. And is it ever a problem to many people—and now more than ever! So this blog is dedicated to that. Please join the conversation—let’s be honest about the problems you’re having, communicating-whether at work, at home or in relationships.

Here’s step 1.

Want to sell a product, an idea, a skill or you yourself? It can never happen electronically! No matter what, people finally want to hear it and experience it from you –live, in person. And here’s the problem: It’s really hard to holding people’s attention any more.  No one’s listening any more. They’re distracted, checking their blackberrys, their IMs, tweets, and sharing their mind-space is really hard.

SO–whether you’re talking to a client, an employee, a co- worker or  a supervisor, the old forms of communication – talking and listening – are becoming obsolete. Our new technologies- instant messaging, blogging, tweeting, facebooking—these are all about seeing information, not hearing it. We’re used to looking at, not listening to information.

But  one thing  hasn’t changed.

None of this has the impact of a face-to face presentation and encounter.

Fine. But now you know that our electronic short-circuit to selling and presenting yourself, makes doing it in person much harder. What can you do now to get and keep anyone’s attention face-to-face? What can make you a great live communicator these days?

To get and hold the attention of the person(s) you’re talking, here’s the secret:  focus on them and what they need, want, like, care about— not all about what you need—when you talk to them…

Great communicating is all about your audience—not you.

People are motivated by their own self-interest, first and foremost. So the sooner you can hook your message into what they want, like or  are worried about, what solutions can theyuse —the sooner you hook them into your message!!

You need to figure out what your audience wants and deliver that because the key question your audience will ask is “What’s in it for me? Why should I listen?”

And you must become not only more knowledgeable but also more  flexible and able to adapt your conversational style to your audience. Being aware of these changes can help you anticipate people’s needs, and make you and your message really effective, wherever you want it to make a difference.

So—I’m looking forward to hearing from you. What are you issues? Where do you get stuck? Who’s not listening to you???