First Anniversary Edition
Hello to each of you! Spring has been an incredibly busy one, so much so, that we are nearly into summer and I am finally getting the Spring (now Spring/Summer) Edition out to you!
Don’t you adore the newness of everything in Spring? The flowers are making a comeback in the garden at the Institute offices in Cherry Creek-- and the blossoms and bulbs in NYC bring all the hope and renewal of the season, after our long winter.
I can’t wait for some beach walks in the Hamptons with good friends. Soon!
I have had to cancel a trip to South Africa in June, due to work commitments; but I am planning a wonderful trip to Sun Valley and Zion, Utah to hike and relax with pals at the end of July and plan to take a driving trip through the Sangre de Cristos Mountains (Four Corners area of Colorado) en route to Taos and the Santa Fe Opera in mid-August. Our country is so rich with beautiful places and when I opened the Colorado offices, I promised myself that I would take advantage of the opportunity to see some of them.
I am excited to announce that my sister, France, is joining our roster of talented consultants and associates in the work of the Speech Fitness® Institute. She will create the content for the important balance work we are exploring there and collaborate with me to ensure exciting, cutting edge holistic Communications exploration and offer targeted consulting on the “body” aspects to the participants. Please read on…I am sure you’ll agree, she is enormously talented and truly a “dancing star”. I know she will add some thrilling new content to our offering. France is also available to speak and consult by special arrangement to individuals and groups. Contact her through email@example.com or by calling either of our offices 212-772-1275/303-321-8935.
Lastly, my mom and brother have been on my mind with an anniversary coming up—it has been nearly two years since my brother Tom’s passing and almost one year since losing my mom. We continue to match your donations with some of the Institute income by contributing to the important research and work for the autistic and developmentally disabled. We will be making another donation in 2005. Your contributions are always deeply appreciated. So many of you have been enormously generous to this cause, which is of huge importance to me, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Tax deductible donations can be sent in memory of my mother,
Dr. Joan Mayotte and my brother Tom Mayotte to:
of the Month:
"One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star."
France Mayotte, Senior Associate
France Mayotte draws on more than 20 years in the performing arts to bring a unique mind/body approach to communications for the Speech Fitness Institute®. As a dancer, choreographer, actress, model and teacher, France has developed an interdisciplinary approach to mind/body integration, or psychophysical unity, that combines elements of dance, Tai Chi, yoga, acting and movement improvisation in order to facilitate greater communication and creativity.
France’s unique theories on communication are the culmination of her eclectic background. She has danced professionally in New York with Twyla Tharp and with the Broadway Company of “West Side Story” as well as in the film adaptation of the musical “Hair,” under the direction of Milos Foreman. She has worked in television and advertising as well and has taught extensively throughout the United States, including at the American College Dance Festival and at Brown University. She continues to produce original choreography for a variety of companies, most recently for the Roger Williams Dance Theatre.
France has developed workshops for the Speech Fitness Institute® that combine Alexander, Bartenieff, Skinner, Pilates, Ideokinesis, Yoga, Quigong and Argentine Tango. Her workshops facilitate not only greater physical strength and flexibility, but an integration of mind and body resulting in enhanced clarity, teambuilding and imagination—essential tools for life and business.
France graduated suma cum laude/Phi Beta Kappa from Boston College with a BA in English Literature. She went on to receive an MFA in dance/choreography from California Institute of the Arts.
Although Emily Post may have driven the word from the contemporary vernacular, what we all strive for as communicators is ‘poise’. According to Webster, poise is “a state of balance or equilibrium; stability. It is freedom from affectation; composure”. If this sounds straight-forward enough, achieving poise is so elusive as to constitute a lifelong challenge for most of us. In our quest for ‘poise’, we first have to identify what things need to be “in balance” and the reasons imbalance occurs. Given that we humans are comprised of mind, body and spirit, these must be the tools of our trade as purveyors of meaning. Certainly when we are born, this triad functions in perfect harmony; we constantly communicate needs and desires in order to maintain the balance of the whole. But eventually society intervenes to suppress the natural tendency towards balance in favor of conformity and achievement based on quantifiable standards. Our lives become driven by unconscious patterns of behavior.
Disconnection is one of the hallmarks of modern society. Western medicine concentrates more on the alleviation of symptoms than on the underlying causes that create them. This ‘disconnect’ is also evident in our education system which still over-emphasizes quantitative assessment at the expense of real learning. Physical education suggests the belief that the mind and body can be educated separately. Substance abuse is more rampant than ever in an effort to escape from the stressful and unfulfilling aspects of contemporary life. Small wonder the human condition since the Industrial Revolution has been increasingly characterized by anxiety and dissociation. But seeing these imbalances, many people have recognized the need for wholeness. The tremendous popularity of Eastern philosophy and Western psychotherapy is evidence of this. Even so, one or another of the aspects of the self is often omitted in the quest for balance. Certainly a resurgence of a variety of spiritual paths as well as an overwhelming preoccupation with physical fitness, separating rather than integrating the physical, intellectual and emotional, is evidence of the imbalance even in our search for balance.
F. M. Alexander, a Tasmanian actor from the late 19th century spent the better part of his life striving for balance and came to develop a technique to help others achieve “psychophysical unity” as well. Early in his acting career, he was plagued by losing his voice whenever he spoke on stage. As a multitude of doctors and voice teachers remained stumped by this syndrome, Alexander set out to solve the mystery himself. Since he had no problems in ordinary speech, he knew that it was something he was doing while using his voice in this way that was the problem. So Alexander dedicated himself to the task of acute observation. In an effort to project his voice to the back of the theater, he noticed that he stiffened his neck and his head went back and down, depressing the larynx and cutting off his breath supply. From observing his ‘manner of doing’, Alexander deduced that the pattern must constitute ‘misuse’, as it seemed to be responsible for his problem. Hence, if he interrupted these patterns of behavior by using his mental faculties, the syndrome would correct itself. Alexander eventually cured himself, which in turn affected his overall sense of wellbeing. From all this he concluded that his ‘manner of doing’ did indeed affect his functioning. This was the beginning of his realization that the choices we make about what we do with ourselves to a large extent determine the quality of our lives.
The organization of our physical, emotional and intellectual functions is extremely complex. Often what feels right is unreliable, so the Alexander technique is based on re-patterning through conscious reasoning. The important thing to remember about these three functions is that we do have a choice about the way we employ them. Alexander chose the word ‘Use’ to describe the process of control over all of those actions that we have the potential to control. The concept of ‘Use’ has the same fundamental importance as ‘heredity’ and ‘environment’. Heredity is usually considered the factor that sets our potential, environment the factor that determines the extent to which we actualize it. Use is necessary to complete the picture. In any effort to overcome destructive habits (i.e., drinking, smoking, over-eating, anxiety, etc) the common denominator of success is the fundamental decision to change. The power to choose, predicated on individual responsibility and integrity, is the core of the concept of Use. The most fundamental form of misuse is the failure to make choices.
The Alexander Technique has been described as ‘systematized common sense based on an understanding of the natural functioning of the human being’. It is often considered a ‘pre-technique’ because learning good ‘Use’ is fundamental to everything else. The goal is the integration of mind and body (psychophysical unity), not from direct actions but from an indirect approach that considers the balance of the whole; to create conditions necessary for ‘natural functioning’ through a balanced distribution of energy, each part performing in harmony with the rest. This is the true meaning of ‘poise’.
Fundamental to this technique is the key role that the head and neck play in integrating all parts of the body. This relationship, dynamic and ever-changing that functions all the time, Alexander called the ‘Primary Control’. When a balanced ‘Use’ of the head and neck is maintained, the quality of action changes. Movement becomes lighter and easier, breathing becomes more rhythmic and internal stimuli are perceived at the same time as external stimuli to create an integrated experience of the environment. In other words, you have a better sense of where you are, and often who you are in relation to the world around you. You have an increased sense of well-being that manifests itself in everything you do.
The application of the principles of the Alexander Technique to organizations also provides an invaluable compass by which to navigate amid chaos. The word corporation comes from the root ‘corpus’ meaning body. Most corporate bodies suffer from the same unreasoned habits and lack of conscious control that plague individuals. Many organizations are compelled by fear-inspired habit toward a short-term, unsound approach to doing business. Just as Alexander emphasized that the human organism always functions as a whole and can only be fundamentally changed as a whole, the same is true of organizations.
In the individual, the Primary Control is the point of greatest leverage for organizing the system into a coordinated whole. The ‘head’ of an organization functions analogously. Organizations will be successful to the extent that their senior management encourages and actively supports universal participation in clarifying and living humane, systems-oriented visions, missions and values. Most big organizations began life as an expression of an idealistic vision of one extraordinary person. As the organization grows, it almost invariably falls prey to bureaucratic habits and idealism falls by the wayside. Then rapid changes force bureaucracies to try to return to their more creative, entrepreneurial roots. The bottom line is that fear is the major culprit for inhibiting change of any kind. Fear prevents people from taking risks, from acknowledging mistakes, making continuous improvement impossible. Freeing ourselves from the legacy of fear supports individual fulfillment and organizational success.
The Alexander Technique provides a model for individuals and organizations alike to maximize potential by promoting creative, adaptable and functional habits in order to cope with our complex world. The intellect is utilized to monitor the effects of habit and determine where changes should be made. The development of mind-body coordination which comes through improved Use creates a practical framework in which the intelligence can work. The main goal of this kind of training is to create conditions necessary for ‘natural functioning’ through a balanced distribution of energy, each part of the system performing its own work in harmony with the rest. It is here that the true experience of poise lies for both individuals and organizations; a state of balance and stability that maximizes potential in every way.
The SFI® BEAT
Kickoff your spring/summer sales season by leading your team out of the office and into the great outdoors for The Speech Fitness Institute®. Here we blend time-tested training techniques with a unique performance-based approach. For over 15 years MM+A has helped prepare some of the most seasoned professionals in every business through the use of a well-rounded mind, body, and spirit approach to communications, leadership and team building. Whether you're looking to re-engage an existing team, build team strength with a newly formed unit, or just propel your team's performance to the next level, SFI can answer the call through a fully customized experience, designed to meet the specific needs of your organization and its market challenges, all set in the great "back to nature" environment of the Colorado Rockies or a location of your choice.
Booking now for Summer and Fall 2005-06 Retreats
For information/registration, visit www.vailleadership.org
TA DA!! Success Stories (yours and ours)
Our hearty congratulations go to:
Sherry Law, Carol Alm and Kathleen Quinn-Votaw for a fantastic ACG women’s event!
Hooray for Jana Matthews who gave an inspiring presentation! Visit www.acg.org
Alice Avanian on her new assignment at Leerink Swann.
Jeremy Story at Storage-Tek on his new position in Corporate Communications.
We love these reads—congratulations to our talented authors!!
Kathleen Fitzgerald on your new book, Divas, Dames and Dolls: A Celebration of the Female Spirit (Hill Street Press)
Tim Copacia on your new book, Truths in Advertising: 140 Powerful Insights on Making It in the Industry (Liverpool Books)
Asra Nomani on your new book, Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam (HarperSanFrancisco)
Stand up for love:
Happy New Baby!
X-tra Special Birthday:
Resources You Can Relate to:
Mary’s Link of the month!
Looking for a great portrait or headshot? Annual report coming up? Want some incredible wedding photos? Go to my favorite photographer www.cherylpollack.com to view Cheryl’s stunning online gallery of beautiful portraiture. She simply does gorgeous work!
Mary’s Picks of the Month!
Secrets of Style—An exceptional resource for your library from our friends at InStyle. We have it in ours at the Institute.
Alter Your Life
Jenn’s Pick of the Month
What the Bleep Do We Know? >Half documentary/half drama starring Marlee Matlin, this provocative film explores the mind/body/soul connection with special emphasis on the role of science in this relationship. Link to amazon listing
Don’t let that next speaking or media opportunity pass you by! Join us for SFI’s new Presentation "BOOT CAMP" + Media "Tune-Ups," where you can join us—or we will bring the Institute to you!
What is YOUR Biggest Communication Challenge?
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We'd love to hear from you—Comments and suggestions are always welcome! firstname.lastname@example.org
The Balance Beam is a collaborative endeavor from the MM+A team:
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