The Superpower of Paying Attention

I have ADD.

I have never been diagnosed with ADD, nor have I been to a doctor and been treated for it but I know down deep in my heart that I have it.

How do I know? Well, it’s hard for me to stay focused and I…oh my God did you see that new show on TV last night…oh look a squirrel…I saw a rock. 🙂

So, in order for me to rein in my ferris wheel, as Steve calls it, and get to the point, I try and study other speakers who seem to have a better grasp on their thoughts than I do.

One speaker I admire is Bill Clinton.

Now no matter what side of the political fence you mow your grass on, there is no denying that if you study Bill Clinton, you can’t help but wonder what makes this man so personable.

There is a warmth and a down home goodness in his words and mannerisms and I, as an aspiring motivational speaker, want to learn from him.

He has a superpower, and it’s not the one you’re thinking of, that has made him one of the greatest speakers of our time and he is certainly a man who knows how to win friends and influence people.

I have never been concerned about him one way or the other however I admire his public speaking skills and I wanted to delve further into what made this gentle and seemingly quiet man so powerful and charismatic.

So, what did I find out was the secret to his success? It’s simple: His legendary charisma stems from the full and undivided attention he gives to every single person he meets.

Paying attention may sound easy to do but most of us don’t apply our full focus when interacting with other people.

Most of us are so distracted and try to multi-task that it seems the ability to completely engage with another person, instead of their cell phone, has become an unusual trait.

Consider this, the average Smartphone user checks his device

every six and a half minutes, or…that on average we give only one-third of our attention to the person we’re having a conversation with.

So someone who can completely and utterly pay attention to you is not only impressive but it’s rare.

How can we learn to completely give someone our undivided attention?

Well, there are certain things that studying speakers like Bill Clinton have taught me:

Attention is about empathy

When speaking to someone, look them in the eye and ask questions. Don’t always make everything about you, ask them about their life, and be genuinely concerned.

One thing I like to do is to keep a mental file on someone. It may sound silly and borderline creepy, but it shows the other person I was paying attention. So the next time I run into them, I can impress them by asking:

“How did your daughter make out on her driving test?”

“Did your son make the football team? I know how excited he was to join.”

“How did your mom’s surgery go? I hope she is okay.”

They will think to themselves, hey she really cares about me and guess what, I do.

Say these things with feeling and mean them.

 Attention can make the difference between a strong and a weak communicator

There is a difference between talking at people and talking to or with them.

Paying attention can be your secret weapon.

When someone approaches you after your speech, focus on them, listen, thank them for coming and make them feel like they are the only person in the room.

Remember the saying, they may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel. And that feeling…will have them coming back for more.

People can tell when you’re actually listening to them – and they love it

Everyone wants to be acknowledged. Learn to connect with people, look them in the eye and listen to what they have to say. Everyone has a story to tell and as a communicator, we often learn more by listening than we do by talking.

Showing concern and interest in another shows not only respect but also a love for human nature and when you are genuinely listening to someone, it makes them feel recognized. In turn, you feel good as well.

Eye contact matters

According to Psychology Today eye contact is the “strongest form of nonverbal communication.” It’s a commanding display of your attention.

After meeting someone for the first time, take their hand and make eye contact. After you leave and move on to the next person, look back at them and seal the deal.

That is powerful and that kind of acknowledgement leaves a lasting impression on someone.

You can improve your ability to pay attention

When it comes to paying attention, great practitioners aren’t born — they’re made.

One way to improve your ability to engage and communicate with others is through meditation. I do this myself every day.

Studies have shown that meditation can improve concentration and focus and gives us an increased ability to avoid distractions. Just as exercise can improve the body, meditation and mindfulness can build your attention muscle through regular training.

Using meditation can help you stay well balanced and can make you more effective in every aspect of your life.

So in conclusion, mediation has helped me in my quest to take over the world…oh look something shiny…

Lisa V. Proulx

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You Are Never Too Old To Learn Something New

When I was a little girl…I was obsessed with I Dream of Jeannie.

When I saw this beautiful woman with long blonde hair put her arms up over her head and shimmy her way into a magic bottle, I knew then, that I wanted to be a belly dancer.

However…it was not until I was 43 years old that I embraced the chance to learn how to dance and within a few short months, my instructor asked me to dance in her troupe and I belly danced for several years.

When I was a little girl…my father tried to teach me to speak French, his native language.

However…he said I was hopeless. He said, “I don’t understand you Lisa, you are a French kid but you are speaking French like an Italian kid. Nowhere on either side of your family are you Italian. I am French Canadian, your mother is French and Cherokee Indian, so why are you speaking Italian?”

I didn’t know.

He taught me a valuable lesson that day…be a sponge and soak up all the knowledge that you can.

If someone offers you a free class…take it.

If someone knows something you don’t…embrace and learn from that person.

If someone has valuable information that may help you in your career, your relationships, your life…then listen to them.

Over the years, I’ve regretted not knowing another language, I’ve regretted not being able to speak my father’s native tongue and I’ve regretted not learning enough from my father while he was here.

So…at 49 years old, I decided to learn another language. I was going to show my father, who passed away in 1986, that I can do this. I can learn a new language, master it and show him I can do this.

So…now I can speak Italian.

A little…un po! 🙂

But the point is, I’m learning and I didn’t think I was too old or too stupid to figure it out, I just wanted to learn something new and I didn’t let anything stand in my way.

Scientist have proven that our brains are a muscle and like our biceps, the more you use them, the stronger they get.

Benefits of learning a new language

Studies have found that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people operate differently than single language speakers, and these differences offer several benefits.

1. You become smarter

Speaking a foreign language improves your brain by challenging it to recognize, negotiate meaning, and communicate in different language systems.

2. Your decision-making skills improve

According to a study from the University of Chicago, bilinguals tend to make more rational decisions. Bilinguals are more confident with their choices after thinking it over in the second language and seeing whether their initial conclusions will stand up.

3. You improve your English

Learning a foreign language teaches you the mechanics of language: like grammar and sentence structure. You become more aware of language, and the ways it can be structured and manipulated.

Knowing these skills can make you a more effective communicator and a sharper editor and a stronger writer. Language speakers also develop a better ear for listening, since they’re skilled at distinguishing meaning from discreet sounds.

Guess what? These things are good! J

So think about it, when was the last time you learned something new? Just for the fun of it or for the passion of enriching your personal growth.

In closing, let me leave you with a quote from Matthew Lesko:

“It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to make your life more worthwhile. By the time you reach 50 or 60, you have a good chance of making it to 80 or even 90 years of age. And you might as well be doing what you really want to be doing in the next 40 years of your life, if you didn’t have the chance to do it in the first part.”


Lisa V. Proulx


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Dysfunction Junction

I learned an important lesson by surviving my rather neurotic childhood…accept how I got here, love who I am now and look forward to who I’m going to be.

However, it was not an easy journey…And I’ll tell you how I got here…

Let me introduce you to my father Philip, who was a loud, opinionated French Canadian…and a total hypochondriac.

The entire family is made up of hypochondriacs. Something always going on, something always happening, somebody always dying…well they’re all dead now so I guess something really was wrong with them.

I grew up in a house with a walk-in medicine closet…we even had cough syrup on tap.

And I never saw my father that he wasn’t checking his pulse and asking me, “Does this mole look like cancer to you?

And he was very paranoid, he didn’t trust anyone…always had his eyes on you…

So I was surprised one year when he offered to take my brother, our friend Richard and me…to the store to see the Easter Bunny.

We were so excited! Here was our chance to meet the bunny who brought us our baskets every year. We would get a chance to thank him for the chocolate bunnies the little egg candies and marshmallow peeps.

We would get a chance to get up close and personal with the man himself!

So we get to the store and there he is! Sitting in a big white fluffy chair, in a flowered vest and top hat, big pink ears sticking out, oh I was so excited!

The store was full of people and there was even a photographer from the local newspaper there…this was it…this was my moment with the Easter Bunny!

Then I noticed that Daddy was getting kind of antsy…then I realized what are we doing here? My father didn’t trust anyone, esp someone who was wearing a mask or a costume. He didn’t trust someone who in his words…was “hiding” something.

You know, like the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or Batman.

Even Superheroes, he said, had a hidden agenda and they were not to be trusted!

However we were there and suddenly, the bunny looked right at me…he tapped his leg for me to sit on his lap… held out his arms for me to give him a hug…So in slow motion…I slowly made my way into the arms of the candy man of my dreams…

When suddenly, out of nowhere, my father pushed me out of the way…and said…“Get away from him! You don’t know who’s under that costume….let Richard sit there!”

Poor Richard, he’s still in therapy….and I probably should be…

Now, Daddy was very proud of his French heritage, as am I, and when I was a child, he tried to teach me to speak French but he said I was hopeless because I spoke French with an Italian accent.

This insulted him. He said, “Lisa I don’t understand what you are doing. Nowhere on either side of your family are you Italian. I am French Canadian, your mother is French and Cherokee, you are a French kid why are speaking Italian?

I said, (in an Italian accent) “I don’t know…scuzi…Senor.”

Well, he never let me forget that day…And he made me feel so guilty about not knowing another language so last year when I turned 49, I decided it was time. It was time to learn the language of my people, to learn the language of the people I embrace, to get the dialect down, to speak a foreign language with perfection. I was going to show my father who passed away in 1986 that I was not hopeless when it came to learning a foreign language.

So now, I can speak Italian.

So that’s how I grew up and hey, none of us are perfect and if we try to find perfection in everyone we meet, we’re gonna miss out on a lot of good relationships.

If we blame our families for our own imperfections, man we’re missing the point.

Yeah, my family was nutty…so what…I was loved and I grew up on a farm with mud pies, Barbie dolls, tire swings and a feeling of being special.

My father always told me that I could be anything that I wanted to be in this world and that I would succeed at anything I wanted to be in this world. He believed in me and that made me believe in myself.

Yeah he shot a chicken off my mother’s head when I was six years old maybe he thought it was the Easter Bunny, I don‘t know…

But when you realize you can’t fix people you can’t rescue them and you sure as heck can‘t change people…you have no choice but to let go of the reins, give up control and just accept them for who they are…

Trust me…it will set you free.


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Welcome to the official site of Inspirational Speaker and Best Selling Author Lisa V. Proulx.

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