How Obama’s calmness inspired trust

 In Delivery

Christopher Edley Jr, one of Barack Obama’s Harvard Law School teachers, said this about Obama. “It was outside of class when he would come by my office to chat that I really got a sense of him. I claim to have been the first to use the phrase ‘preternatural calmness’ to describe him. That’s what’s so striking about him. Even as we would talk about career paths, he seemed so centered that, in combination with his evident intelligence, I just wanted to buy stock in him. I knew that the capital gains would be enormous.” (As quoted on p. 217, in The Bridge – The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, by David Remnick, Picador 2010).

Most of us would like to have Obama’s preternatural calmness. However I’d suggest that you don’t compare yourself to Obama. Rather, begin with Intentionally Daily Practice (IDP) of calmness. IDP means that everyday you intentionally practice a technique/action. This IDP, over time, will turn a one-off technique/action into a change of behavior.

Here’s one way my sales presentation and speech communication clients develop calmness through IDP.

They practice the following decision cycle – Stop, Observe, Decide, Act (SODA) – in their body movement and speaking. (SODA is my variation of John Boyd’s OODA decision cycle loop).

Here’s how it could work in practice:

Imagine entering a networking event room. The room is filled with people as you enter.

  1. Stop, after you enter the room (versus continuing to move into the room).
  2. Observe, the scene and the groups of people.
  3. Decide, what to do next. That is, go to the bar first, or join a group of people you seem to recognize, or introduce yourself to a lone person etc.
  4. Act. That is act on what you’ve decided. For example, go to the bar.

Use of the SODA cycle may only take minimal time (a few seconds or so). However, anecdotal evidence reveals that using the discrete steps, speeds up your access and ordering of your thoughts. Ironically, decreasing or stopping body movement, increases speed of thought.

Intentional Daily Practice of the SODA cycle in your body movement and speaking will translate into projecting calmness.

The ‘how to apply’ for this post: Over the next seven days Intentionally Daily Practice the SODA decision cycle and reflect on its impact on your calmness.


p.s. I recently hired a great I.T. consultant who helped me with a major overall of my computer systems. His name is Peter Wong from KTBR IT Solutions: e: peter.wong@ktbr.com.au ph: 0438 882 778. Peter demonstrated (and continues to demonstrate) the three attributes of great customer services: Professional, Knowledgeable, Friendly. I highly recommend his services.

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