Story of Zen Master

The following Zen wisdom and confident speaking story, a favorite of mine, points to what I believe are the 3 secrets to confident speaking.

A student came to Master Ichu and said, “Please write for me something of great wisdom.”

Master Ichu picked up his brush and wrote one word: “Attention.”

The student said, “Is that all?”

The master wrote, “Attention. Attention.”

The student became irritable. “That doesn’t seem profound or subtle to me.”

In response, Master Ichu wrote simply, “Attention. Attention. Attention.”

In frustration, the student demanded, “What does this word ‘attention’ mean?”

Master Ichu replied, “Attention means attention.”

The Connection to Speaking

Are you wondering what is the connection between zen wisdom and confident speaking?

Let me share with you why I see Master Ichu’s wisdom as the key to speaking without anxiety.

Secret #1. Pay Attention

The first secret to managing anxiety is to “Pay Attention.”

Then, If you have a nervous system that typically gets activated when you think about speaking in public, you need to pay attention to the anxiety.

Anxiety does not go away by itself.

You cannot ignore the hot blush that starts to rise up on your face or the pounding in your heart.

You need to face these signals. They are telling you that trouble is on its way. So, help your body go to its calm center of stillness.

Secret #2. Pay Attention

The second secret to managing anxiety is to “Pay Attention.”

This secret is about you noticing if you are connected to your core inner strength.

If you are only in your mind and filled with doubts about how you will be perceived by others, then you can’t be strong.

You need to pay attention to where your true strength resides. It is the positive core of your Being.

You might be able to counter your doubts with a positive affirmation, and that’s a good start.

But you need to focus on the true source of your power which is at your core…the true Essence of who you are.

Secret #3. Pay Attention

The third secret to managing anxiety is to “Pay Attention.”

You have just learned that you need to pay attention to the anxiety signals (secret #1) and you need to pay attention to your core strength (secret #2).

Now I’m saying you have to pay attention to your listeners (secret #3).

When you are in front of a group, you must be able to turn the focus away from yourself.

Many of you get preoccupied with your own whirlwind of worries.

These worries are distractions.

You need to come back to one person at a time and give them your full attention.


To those of you who want to be more present and connected when you speak, these 3 words of wisdom from Master Ichu are your guide.

I’m not a Zen master, but I’m an expert Psychologist and Mindfulness Teacher who can answer your questions about how to be calm and relaxed when speaking.

If you have a question, join me for a live Q&A this Thursday, February 13th at 10 am Pacific Time. Click Here to contact Doreen.