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18 Feb 2014

How to Walk on Fire and Don't Get Burnt

You have experienced this before: in front of many high level people, you have to face the music and make a daring proposal. This could be a management restructuring meeting or some meetings where you have some tough proposals to push through. You know that the audience will question you hard, challenge you fiercely and even reprimand you for what you are presenting. Yet you have no choice and have to continue the job. We call this Walk on Fire at the Workplace.

Indeed many people think that walking on fire will get your feet burnt. Yet anyone that has done some fire walking (on hot embers or stones) will tell you that if you do the right things, your feet will not get burnt. This is because fire-walking has been practised by many people and cultures in all parts of the world, with the earliest known reference dating back to Iron Age India around 1,200 BCE. It is often used as a rite of passage, as a test of an individual's strength and courage, or in religion as a test of one's faith. Fire-walking became popular in the twentieth century when Motivational Guru Tony Robbins began giving public courses throughout the United States and Asia to demonstrate that the practice was not paranormal. I myself have done it at Tony Robbins' Unleash the Power Within Weekend in August 2001 and came out unhurt. The 5 things to do to walk on fire and not get burnt are:
  1. Only have brief moments of contact between your feet and the hot stones. If the contact is less than one second, the time is too short for the fire stones to have any effect on your feet;
  2. Wet your feet, thereby creating a good cooling effect to negate any fire effect on your feet;
  3. Walk firmly and in a balanced way, thereby putting very little weight of your body on the hot stones, reducing further your feet's contact point with the hot stones;
  4. Look up straight and not look down, for when you look down you will tend to be frighten and slow down, thereby lengthening the contact time with the hot stones;
  5. Walk fast but not too fast that you will stumble and fall. Fast walking further reduces the contact time with the hot stones. In the end the contact time of less than one tenth of a second will make you unable to feel the fire below your feet.
In the workplace, we can apply the above parallel to walk on fire and not get burnt as follows:
  1. Do not linger or spend too much time of contact between you and the questioners. Focus on your presentation and do not go outside your agenda even when asked. 
  2. Put some 'water' cooling elements between you and the questioners, and this 'water' usually means a relaxed yet confident posture and smile on your face;
  3. Present firmly and in a balanced way, covering all interests and making sure that everyone benefits from your proposal;
  4. Look into their eyes when you present, do not look down at your notes for it shows a lack of conviction in your presentation;
  5. Speak fast but not too fast until they cannot understand you. Speaking fast means that the audience do not have much time to ask you questions, thereby minimizing any fire between you and the questioners.
In short, if you do the above 5 ways, you can be like me, walk on fire and not get my feet burnt. Happy walking!

By Andy Ng, Chief Trainer Coach at Asia Trainers, details are at here.

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