How a Black Belt Test is Like Your First Big Media Appearance

episode 38

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SUMMARY: In this podcast episode, Susan Harrow draws parallels between taking a black belt test in Aikido and your first big media appearance. Despite facing challenges like injuries or nerves, it’s crucial to stay present and connected to your audience. Techniques like deep breathing and visualization help manage nerves and maintain focus on delivering value to your audience. By grounding yourself and letting go of distractions, you can shine in any media moment.

Table of contents:

How a Black Belt Test is Like Your First Big Media Appearance

I have my black belt test in Aikido this morning. And I was thinking back to when, as a new media trainer, the first time I gave a media coaching training course for executives and every single person in that course came up to me, cornered me alone, and told me why they weren’t at their best that day. So I think that there’s always something that happens that makes us think we’re not at our best and the illusive possibility of doing better looms.

I remember one person told me that she was about to be on Oprah and she got a call that her father was dying. So she had to choose between being by her father’s side or having a once in a life chance to be on Oprah.

She chose to be by her father’s side.

As much as being on Oprah was a big dream of hers she said she has no regrets.

Usually, something that happens to us is not quite as dramatic.

Be In The Present Moment

So for me before my Aikido black belt test the first thing that happened is I tweaked out my knee. I did not tweak it out training on the mat in the dojo, I twisted it in my carpeted bedroom practicing, what’s called sawari-waza or knee throws. I’ve got ice on it right now and I’m going to be taking Advil before the test because it’s really hurting me.

Aikido training media appearance
Aikido Japanese Martial Arts

The second thing that happened is that my eyes are drying out. Suddenly in the middle of the night my eyes are like sandpaper. Right now I have my glasses on because I’m going to put in my contacts in the last minute.

The next thing that happened is I got a big spider bite on my stomach. It’s driving me crazy. It’s itching and burning. Then the other thing that happened is my shoulders are knotted up right tight. I’ve been doing so much computer work. Every night I lay on my Samurai massage machine but they are still really achey.

Oh, and then the last thing is, and this might seem kind of trivial, but I have two giant zits on my forehead. And I usually don’t get zits at all so that’s sort of the least of my worries doing the test.

What I’m saying is that they’re all of these kinds of things that conspire against me and you may say, “You know, I’m not at my best right now.” But the thing is that we need to put that aside and just be a 100% in the moment. Be in the present moment.

So what the most important thing is to connect to your host and to connect to the audience. How do you do that? How do you put aside all of this stuff that’s going on in your life?

Whether it’s that your child has a 100-degree temperature, or you’ve just gotten fired at work, or chastised by your boss, or you’ve gotten in an accident on the way to the studio.

Imagine Yourself As A Tree

Whatever it is, small or large, one of the things that you can do is something that I learned from the Dalai Lama, that I love very much. Which is you imagine yourself as a tree. And that tree, the roots go all the way into the ground and then they touch every single person in the audience. So you’re deeply connected, you’re deeply grounded and rooted. And then you’re also connected to all people. Because typically what happens when we’re nervous is the energy zooms up to our head. So we want to bring it down and through the feet and be grounded.

Aikido Japanese Martial Arts media appearance
Aikido high fall Susan Harrow throwing

I remember Lee Glickstein, who created speaking circles, and is one of my clients said to me “If you’re ever feeling separate and if ever you have fear to be in front of an audience that you’re going to be ashamed or you’re going to do something stupid, that you still feel separation from all people.” So it’s that feeling of being one that people are instead of conspiring against you are conspiring for you.

So the Dalai Lama exercise really grounds you deeply into the Earth and also connects you to all beings. Your audience, and then you can spread it out to the whole world. Whoever you’re communicating with through the medium of TV, radio, Lives, podcasts, presentations, panels, or print.

Take A Deep Breath and Relax

The other thing that you can do that calms you down right away is a deep breathing for 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out. And if you can do that at least 10 times it calms down the autonomic nervous system. I’m going to be doing that this morning because my stomach right now is in knots and I’ve already gone to the bathroom twice so I’m going to spend some time breathing. And I’m certainly going to be doing this slow, calming breathing while I’m on the mat before my test.

The other thing is something that I learned from Hale Dwoskin of the Sedona Method, which is when some nervousness or whatever comes up to just let it go. And something else may come up in the next moment, but it’s a process of consciously just letting it go in the next breath, in the next breath, in the next breath.

Stay Focused on How You Can Help

So you can be 100% present when you’re on Zoom, on stage, in that TV studio or in that radio studio looking the host in the eye and remembering what it is you want to convey to your audience.

What does your audience need to know most, and how can you help?

Stay focused on that. That takes the emphasis off of you and puts it on what you have to give to your audience. That’s a way to flip it.

So that’s how a black belt test is like a TV appearance. No matter what happens at this crucial moment, whatever happens before, you just let it go and you enjoy your beautiful media moment.

So stand your ground, speak your mind, sing your song, wish me luck on my black belt test and I will talk to you soon. Bye.

P.S. I’m now training for my second degree black belt test which will be in about a year. UPDATE: I’m a blackbelt now.

Are you enjoying the Podcast? Then I invite you to hop on over to iTunes to subscribe, rate + review it. Here’s a quick video on how to do a podcast review on iTunes. (It’s simple if you follow these directions). Note: It can take up to 24 hours to show up on my Podcast. You’re welcome to send this to anyone you think it would delight. May good fortune always follow you!

Want to know how to subscribe on your phone? Watch this video.

Want to be a guest on my Podcast? Jet me an email with your topic and a link to your bio here.

Send Susan a Voice Message!

Click below to send me your voice message with a question or topic you’d like to hear more about in my upcoming podcasts! I will answer the most pressing and popular ones in a future episode. (I’ll mention your first name ONLY to protect your privacy.)

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Hi, I'm Susan

I’m a media coach, martial artist + marketing strategist who helps you communicate your values, mission + message during media interviews to multiply your revenue while building your brand + business. I believe that you don’t need to brag, beg or whore yourself to get the publicity you want. Nor do you need to be an axe murderer, a shamed sports star, or be involved in a sex scandal. There is another way…

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