Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Speaking to Inspire with Peter Meyers
Category:
Mind

As CEO of the Stand & Deliver Group, Peter Meyers consults with organizational and political leaders as well as artists and athletes. He and his team of 40 consultants foucs on developing leaders and their teams to inspire great performances. Oftentimes that ability is achieved through the power of storytelling – a talent Peter began to develop more than 30 years ago working as a Gazebo Park School teacher.

This summer Peter taught in Esalen’s Integral Leadership Program, helping to foster another generation of storytellers and young leaders. We spoke to Peter about his work and the importance of helping others to speak to inspire.

eNews: You’ve created a program called Speak to Inspire, which you describe as helping people bring their best ideas into the world. Why is this so important in today’s highly polarized world?

Peter: I think the work that Esalen is doing is more important than ever. We’re living in a time of unprecedented disruption, complexity, and conflict. We are rife with fear, sectarianism, anger, and massive levels of enmity about "others". We’re also living in a time where there’s more information being communicated at us than ever before in history. People are drowning in information, but starved for meaning.

One of the core principles of Esalen from the very beginning has been to revitalize human relationships, and that’s what we do with Speak to Inspire. We’re learning to think together and to develop greater insight and compassion. As we find more and more of our communication becoming digital, the spoken word has become more rarefied and at times more valued. When we can deeply touch, connect, understand, and feel each other again it’s a wonderful experience.

We're seeking to create greater clarity around what’s going on for people – thoughts and feelings – and then explore fresh ways to translate our ideas with intention about the experience we're crafting in each other's presence. For most of us, we communicate the way we think. But our thoughts don't necessarily occur in ways that make sense to the listener. The great storytellers, teachers, and leaders go through a process to form language and structure ideas. Done well, you can feel them moving the molecules in the room, you can feel an alignment, excitement, and a shared joy.

eNews: Do we all have the ability to be storytellers?

Peter: I think we have all innate talent, and we can all grow immensely with a little training.  Thirty years ago I was a Gazebo teacher and I observed that children are natural storytellers and love to tell stories. We can fall into trap of thinking that "I don’t have that storytelling ability"; yet all of us can be storytellers. If you grew up around great storytellers, like a grandfather perhaps, or if you’ve gone through theatre, you’ve been around it.  And we can all get better. There is craft there, a technique to bring details into stories so you can smell the cooking that brings you into the room, for example.

eNews: What are the biggest challenges people face in speaking publically?

Peter: Public speaking is any speaking you do outside of your own home. When we sit with our colleagues, with our team, for a job interview, all are opportunities to make a difference and create change.

There are some challenges that we can experience. For example, we tend to over-talk and use too many words. We say something five different ways to make sure we get our point across. Too often the listener is checking his phone or Facebook before you’ve finished your first sentence. We also need to be more clear. Most of our speaking unfolds as thoughts occur to us, but we don’t necessarily organize our thoughts in a way to give our listener intellectual delight.

When our thoughts are clear, it creates pleasure, synapses are created in real time, and there is delight in feeling your brain grow and having the light bulb go off. Likewise, your listener can experience discomfort when she can’t understand what is being communicated. It’s as if your brain is twisted like a knot of spaghetti.

eNews: What can we do to help place us in a better mindset to communicate more effectively?

Peter: When the pressure is on, our emotions can betray us. When we need to be at our best, we often are high- jacked with fear. The efficacy of our communication is dependent on our state of being. When you communicate from fear, your quality of thinking is compromised. It’s as if you’re trying to download ideas on dial-up instead of high speed. When we’re bored, angry, scared, or frustrated it not only colors the quality of communication to others, but decreases our intellectual capacity.

When you communicate from a state of purpose, and have intellectual generosity, joy, and care, you are communicating from an inspired mindset.  This not only looks and sounds better, but the brain is lit up in a different way. You begin to think thoughts that would not occur to you otherwise. Your heart is open, and you’re able to receive. Communication is two-way, and you become intensely human in those moments.

We know about preparing content, but we also need to prepare our state of mind. No athlete ever stands on a football field or tennis court without knowing that she needs to attend to her state first. No dancer or actor will step on stage without having a process to optimize his psychology state, both to overcome negative emotion and to bring himself to peak emotion – a state of joy, certainty, and generosity. From that place we do our best work.

eNews: You have a background as an athletic coach and actor. How did those experiences shape you and your career?

Peter: I’ve combined 30 years teaching at Esalen, decades in the theatre as both a director and actor, and 10 years teaching skiing and tennis. I've braided the three of those disciplines into a methodology we use at Stand and Deliver. All the great teachers I’ve met talk about putting your whole self into the thing you’re doing, and surrender to it.

When I was actor and working as a  waiter in New York the owner would say to me: ‘Peter, when you pour the wine, you put your whole mind and body into it. You pour your own soul in the glass.’  I was also living in the dojo at the time and my teacher would say, "Peter, when you sit, sit. Your mind has to sit. Your legs have to sit. You are in a state of sitting.”

That same week I was studying at a neighborhood playhouse with the late Stanford Miser and he said to me: ‘If you want to be an actor, you have to learn the reality of doing, which is to throw everything into one thing. You have to do just one thing. There is no compromise on that.” This happened all in one week, three teachers saying the same thing.

eNews: You teach in Esalen’s Integral Leadership Program. Do you see any differences in this younger age group compared to your typical clients?

Peter: There’s a wonderful idealism, a refreshing idealism in young people today. It’s not a blind idealism, but a very authentic desire to be socially responsible and contribute.

Using the Maslow hierarchy as an example, many of them are entering the world at the top of the pyramid and not necessarily asking questions of safety, food, or shelter. They’re asking how do I make a difference in the world and how do I grow? There’s a kind of inclusiveness in that they want what their doing to make a difference in other things. At the same time, they’re ambitious and impatient in a good way. They want to know "how can I do it now"?

eNews: What do you hope your ILP students take away from their month working with you?

Peter: At the end of the 28 days, they’re going to be able to tap into a state of flow; tap into resources of imagination and creativity as they develop their voices. Perhaps more importantly, they are developing their voices as an ensemble of storytellers. This is about creating interdependence. The leadership of tomorrow is no longer about the strong-willed flag-carrying hero who gets in front of the group and leads them up the mountain.

Leadership today is more kinetic. It’s about listening, responding, and collaborating within systems. It’s also about reading dynamic changes moment to unanticipated moment. It’s about knowing when to lead, and when to follow. Trusting your gut and instincts, and being bold and humble at the same time. It’s the courage to open your heart and let your ideas go forward with faith that they will land and work magic on people around them. This is very much about working in a team in a creative endeavor and discovering power in the group.

eNews: How can Esalen, as an organization, speak to inspire?

Peter: If we’re really effective, seminarians will not only discover some thing while at Esalen, but they’ll take it back with them as they re-enter their world. Esalen is about making discoveries and also bringing those discoveries and sharing them generously with the world. Esalen impacts an individual and then empowers individuals to shine light as they go back into the world.

For more information about Peter Meyers and Stand and Deliver, please visit: http://standanddelivergroup.com.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Mind

As CEO of the Stand & Deliver Group, Peter Meyers consults with organizational and political leaders as well as artists and athletes. He and his team of 40 consultants foucs on developing leaders and their teams to inspire great performances. Oftentimes that ability is achieved through the power of storytelling – a talent Peter began to develop more than 30 years ago working as a Gazebo Park School teacher.

This summer Peter taught in Esalen’s Integral Leadership Program, helping to foster another generation of storytellers and young leaders. We spoke to Peter about his work and the importance of helping others to speak to inspire.

eNews: You’ve created a program called Speak to Inspire, which you describe as helping people bring their best ideas into the world. Why is this so important in today’s highly polarized world?

Peter: I think the work that Esalen is doing is more important than ever. We’re living in a time of unprecedented disruption, complexity, and conflict. We are rife with fear, sectarianism, anger, and massive levels of enmity about "others". We’re also living in a time where there’s more information being communicated at us than ever before in history. People are drowning in information, but starved for meaning.

One of the core principles of Esalen from the very beginning has been to revitalize human relationships, and that’s what we do with Speak to Inspire. We’re learning to think together and to develop greater insight and compassion. As we find more and more of our communication becoming digital, the spoken word has become more rarefied and at times more valued. When we can deeply touch, connect, understand, and feel each other again it’s a wonderful experience.

We're seeking to create greater clarity around what’s going on for people – thoughts and feelings – and then explore fresh ways to translate our ideas with intention about the experience we're crafting in each other's presence. For most of us, we communicate the way we think. But our thoughts don't necessarily occur in ways that make sense to the listener. The great storytellers, teachers, and leaders go through a process to form language and structure ideas. Done well, you can feel them moving the molecules in the room, you can feel an alignment, excitement, and a shared joy.

eNews: Do we all have the ability to be storytellers?

Peter: I think we have all innate talent, and we can all grow immensely with a little training.  Thirty years ago I was a Gazebo teacher and I observed that children are natural storytellers and love to tell stories. We can fall into trap of thinking that "I don’t have that storytelling ability"; yet all of us can be storytellers. If you grew up around great storytellers, like a grandfather perhaps, or if you’ve gone through theatre, you’ve been around it.  And we can all get better. There is craft there, a technique to bring details into stories so you can smell the cooking that brings you into the room, for example.

eNews: What are the biggest challenges people face in speaking publically?

Peter: Public speaking is any speaking you do outside of your own home. When we sit with our colleagues, with our team, for a job interview, all are opportunities to make a difference and create change.

There are some challenges that we can experience. For example, we tend to over-talk and use too many words. We say something five different ways to make sure we get our point across. Too often the listener is checking his phone or Facebook before you’ve finished your first sentence. We also need to be more clear. Most of our speaking unfolds as thoughts occur to us, but we don’t necessarily organize our thoughts in a way to give our listener intellectual delight.

When our thoughts are clear, it creates pleasure, synapses are created in real time, and there is delight in feeling your brain grow and having the light bulb go off. Likewise, your listener can experience discomfort when she can’t understand what is being communicated. It’s as if your brain is twisted like a knot of spaghetti.

eNews: What can we do to help place us in a better mindset to communicate more effectively?

Peter: When the pressure is on, our emotions can betray us. When we need to be at our best, we often are high- jacked with fear. The efficacy of our communication is dependent on our state of being. When you communicate from fear, your quality of thinking is compromised. It’s as if you’re trying to download ideas on dial-up instead of high speed. When we’re bored, angry, scared, or frustrated it not only colors the quality of communication to others, but decreases our intellectual capacity.

When you communicate from a state of purpose, and have intellectual generosity, joy, and care, you are communicating from an inspired mindset.  This not only looks and sounds better, but the brain is lit up in a different way. You begin to think thoughts that would not occur to you otherwise. Your heart is open, and you’re able to receive. Communication is two-way, and you become intensely human in those moments.

We know about preparing content, but we also need to prepare our state of mind. No athlete ever stands on a football field or tennis court without knowing that she needs to attend to her state first. No dancer or actor will step on stage without having a process to optimize his psychology state, both to overcome negative emotion and to bring himself to peak emotion – a state of joy, certainty, and generosity. From that place we do our best work.

eNews: You have a background as an athletic coach and actor. How did those experiences shape you and your career?

Peter: I’ve combined 30 years teaching at Esalen, decades in the theatre as both a director and actor, and 10 years teaching skiing and tennis. I've braided the three of those disciplines into a methodology we use at Stand and Deliver. All the great teachers I’ve met talk about putting your whole self into the thing you’re doing, and surrender to it.

When I was actor and working as a  waiter in New York the owner would say to me: ‘Peter, when you pour the wine, you put your whole mind and body into it. You pour your own soul in the glass.’  I was also living in the dojo at the time and my teacher would say, "Peter, when you sit, sit. Your mind has to sit. Your legs have to sit. You are in a state of sitting.”

That same week I was studying at a neighborhood playhouse with the late Stanford Miser and he said to me: ‘If you want to be an actor, you have to learn the reality of doing, which is to throw everything into one thing. You have to do just one thing. There is no compromise on that.” This happened all in one week, three teachers saying the same thing.

eNews: You teach in Esalen’s Integral Leadership Program. Do you see any differences in this younger age group compared to your typical clients?

Peter: There’s a wonderful idealism, a refreshing idealism in young people today. It’s not a blind idealism, but a very authentic desire to be socially responsible and contribute.

Using the Maslow hierarchy as an example, many of them are entering the world at the top of the pyramid and not necessarily asking questions of safety, food, or shelter. They’re asking how do I make a difference in the world and how do I grow? There’s a kind of inclusiveness in that they want what their doing to make a difference in other things. At the same time, they’re ambitious and impatient in a good way. They want to know "how can I do it now"?

eNews: What do you hope your ILP students take away from their month working with you?

Peter: At the end of the 28 days, they’re going to be able to tap into a state of flow; tap into resources of imagination and creativity as they develop their voices. Perhaps more importantly, they are developing their voices as an ensemble of storytellers. This is about creating interdependence. The leadership of tomorrow is no longer about the strong-willed flag-carrying hero who gets in front of the group and leads them up the mountain.

Leadership today is more kinetic. It’s about listening, responding, and collaborating within systems. It’s also about reading dynamic changes moment to unanticipated moment. It’s about knowing when to lead, and when to follow. Trusting your gut and instincts, and being bold and humble at the same time. It’s the courage to open your heart and let your ideas go forward with faith that they will land and work magic on people around them. This is very much about working in a team in a creative endeavor and discovering power in the group.

eNews: How can Esalen, as an organization, speak to inspire?

Peter: If we’re really effective, seminarians will not only discover some thing while at Esalen, but they’ll take it back with them as they re-enter their world. Esalen is about making discoveries and also bringing those discoveries and sharing them generously with the world. Esalen impacts an individual and then empowers individuals to shine light as they go back into the world.

For more information about Peter Meyers and Stand and Deliver, please visit: http://standanddelivergroup.com.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

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