Sunday, January 29, 2012

Far Reach: A must read for Toastmasters

On April 16 2011, 8 North Florida speech contest octo-finalists vied for the right to move on to the quarterfinals round of Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking.  The top three speeches that night were as follow:

·         Winning Speech:  “America”

A patriotic and motivating speech about taking advantage of our opportunities, by Walter Marriah Jr.

·         Runner-up: “The Month of August”

 A sentimental speech about the impact of a loving father, by Louis Sloan

·         2nd runner-up: “Fight or Flight”

An illuminating speech on the courageous nature of a rescue dog and how we could emulate it, by Pat Simmons

All three speeches were impactful and memorable speeches delivered by dynamic and seasoned speakers.  However, you’d really be surprised by the result of the speech that most likely placed last that night.

This speech was delivered by Leah Gilbert Henderson.  You must know that Leah placed last at the 1st round (club level).  She only advanced because all the others who placed higher had scheduling conflicts and couldn’t compete at the next round.  Leah then competed at the 2nd round (Area level) and once again placed last.  Luck would have it, that once again, scheduling conflicts for others opened the door for Leah to compete at the octo-finals (Division Level).

On the night of the Division contest, April 16, 2011, Leah gave a speech to encourage us to better our health by eating vibrant colored fruits and vegetables, yet she struggled to keep her delivery from being as bland as white flour.  Needless to say Leah did not leave with a trophy that night, nor was she going to strike luck a third time to somehow move to the quarterfinals.  However, her speech did not die in that meeting room.  

Three days later, after arriving home from work, I opened the fridge to see all kinds of greens and fruits.  My wife, Teressa, said that Leah’s speech motivated and challenged her to make better diet decisions.

10 months later our fridge is still regularly supplied with colored veggies and fruits.  Leah’s speech did not make it to the top round but her message made it to another home.

That is what the contest, and speaking in general is about: Not how far you can make it, but rather how far your message can reach.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

O.W.N. your Pursuit.

Would you want to be a part of 34,999 losers? That's what I belonged to when I fell short as a quarterfinal's runner-up in Toastmaster's International World Championship of Public Speaking in 2010; a contest where usually 35,000 Toastmaster members, compete but only one will be crowned the World Champion.

I was devastated knowing I was that close to moving on to the next level; however, when I found out that there were 34,998 others who fell short of winning the crown it made me feel just a bit....worse. Urghh, I'm so competitive.

Nonetheless, time allowed me to discover that the whole experience was a win because I truly came out a better speaker, leader, and person. 'How did that happen,' you ask? Well, while every experience grows us, I believe I got the most out of mine by 'O.W.N.' ing mine- and you can too.

Own-(verb) to acknowledge as one's own, to fully engage with.

By O.W.N., I mean that we don't just go through the motion, but we engage and:

Observe and learn
Write notes and ideas
Network with people

My experience was going through a speech contest, but for you it may be trying to start your own business, pursue a new career, or write your own book. You can carry this desire and leave it to luck whether you will achieve it or not, or you can engage and O.W.N. your journey.

Observe and Learn- means you have to show up. If you want to be a writer- start reading books that are selling off the shelf- follow popular bloggers and authors. If you want to be a speaker, attend seminars where great speakers are presenting.

Observe what these icons do best. Participate actively by analyzing their techniques. Don't just accept that they are good; identify and specify what makes them sizzle. Ask yourself, 'what can I learn and incorporate into my own art to make me better?'

Write notes and ideas- We all have great ideas- in fact ideas are constantly oozing in and out of our minds; however, we can never hold on to them long enough to act. Why? Because we don't write them down. Writing is the first step of taking action. When you write down ideas and take notes, you make a greater commitment to follow up on those ideas and note. Is there really power in writing? Yes, that's why less than 5% of people reach their goals, and these people have one thing in common- they wrote down their goals. Start writing!!

Network with people- If talent can take you one mile, people will take you ten. People may be hard to deal with at times and sometimes you may not know who you can trust; however, every decision that has been made on earth has been made by a human. A person decided who got hired, what book to buy, and which speaker to book. Because people are subjects they make subjective decisions. If people know you and feel comfortable with you they will make favorable decisions towards you.

You are not going to make it without people- you will need them to market your book, to give a you a favorable recommendation, or to make you a loan. Start networking and building mutually edifying relationships. It's been said that “your network is your net worth.” There is a lot to be said about that.

I continue to pursue a career in bettering the lives of people through speaking. You too have your own longing desires. The fear of falling into the group of the 34,999 losers keeps us on the sideline and reluctant to try; however, I believe that anyone who engages in the process will come out a winner. The true prize is not a trophy, a big salary, or fame. The true prize is a better polished YOU. You will achieve that by 'O.W.N.'ing the experience.

Continue on your PASSIONATE PURSUIT.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

To work or not to work.

As I'm scanning the local ad, the followings beams right at me, "Managers and Sales Representatives".  

Without transcribing the entire ad for you, here was the key hook: 
" As part of our EXPANSION PROGRAM, company is lookingfor PART TIME employees to WORK FROM HOME, the pay is $3000 a month PLUS BENEFITS." 
This type of ad will elicit only two polarizing responses- 1) "Really???!!!"(With enthusiasm) or 2) "Whatever!!!!" (With scoffing). For me it got the #2 response. But nonetheless it got me thinking.

This ad took up a lot of costly real estate on the newspaper so the author knew what s/he was doing. There are key promises in this ad that many people are looking for.

1) Expansion Program- (this job is growing so there is security in its success)

2) Part Time - (this work will not be exhausting and the hours will be flexible)

2) Work from home - (this job will be convenient)

3) $3000 a month - (this job will provide consistent income)

4) Plus Benefits - (Benefits without full time commitment)

Who wouldn't want a secure $36000 a year, with free HMO coverage, while leisurely working 4 - 5 hours a day from their sofa???? But if you think anyone really is going to transact that type of quid pro quo with you, you may be too gullible.

Since the fall in the garden, God told Adam one important thing, "Through hard toil, the earth will yield you it's fruit." Gen 3:17

I don't think this job offer is a hoax- but it is surely hiding what it's really going to take to be successful in it.... W.O.R.K., with a capital "OH MY LORD!!!"

If you do go for this job, please expect the following

1) Things that expand tend to contract as well (i.e. pregnant bellies after labor) that is the level of security you can expect.

2) Part time means you'll probably work half days (you can choose which 12 hours you prefer)

3) Mowing the Lawn, washing the dishes, and cleaning bathrooms are all work from home. (But to me that has never been convenient).

4) $3000 a month will seem like it got cut in half as soon as you accept the job. (Money alone will never continue to fuel you in a job)

5) Hopefully 'Benefits' means free HMO coverage - (you'll probably need it with the stress you'll encounter from the job).

Please don't think I'm hating on this job. I'm not, but I do want to decode the ad. I feel it's important that everyone knows that there is not a road to enjoying the good fruits of life that is not paved with work; though we all would love to find one.

We all have good fruits in this life that we want to enjoy: financial freedom, edifying relationships, accomplishments, respect, prestige, etc., Deep down we understand it will take work to obtain these seemingly evasive goals; yet many keep falling for empty promises that we can get a shortcut to them or walk a path that doesn't require extensive labor.

It doesn't exist. We must be comfortable with the fact that it will take work to get there.

Consider this there are two long roads to your desired goals- one is paved with work and the other with quick sand. Which would you like to take?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Just Start!

The title of my first blog post is apropos not only for me in finally getting my blog started but for everyone out there who has been carrying an impregnated vision way past term.


Steven Tyler, in his interview with Oprah, remarked on how many of the IDOL contestant's who are sent home are twice as good as Janis Joplin or even he was when they sang their first note.  The point is that neither Janis, nor Steven, nor any great singer we know of came out singing melodic masterpieces.  None could emotionally move their audience as skillfully as our remembrance of their peak performances.  Yet, that did not stop them.  They JUST STARTED from where they were on a PASSIONATE PURSUIT of their dream; and each reached their own great heights.

That seems to be different than how most of us think now.  We usually measure our beginning point with others mid to end points and give up because we don't measure up.  Or we keep saying that we will perfect our skill before we start- Of course that never happens.

If we would JUST START where we are and believe that there is no perfection other than what has been perfected- and if it had to be perfected that means it wasn't perfect to began with.  Furthermore, like the stars we idolize in our minds- we will not ultimately be remembered by how we started (regardless of how terrible it was) but how we matured, persevered, and finished- and of course we can't experience any of those unless we JUST START.

    Maya Angelou said, "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."  We all have a vision we value and a passion we prize yet many of us suppress it because we aren't sure how others will receive it.  We never start because we try to prejudge whether or not we will finish the race, or if we'll place among 'the greats'.  The truth is, if we have a song, a desire, a burning passion-it's worth singing, or pursuing. 

Each individual who has ever lived, regardless of how great their feats and accomplishments, will make only a single note in the orchestra of life.  You make your note by singing your song- that is pursuing your passion and birthing that vision you've been laboring.  When all the notes come together a beautiful sound erupts from the earth and moves the heavens.  No one note was more important than the other- each supported and was supported by another.

So don't let fear, doubt, or whatever is keeping you from a PASSIONATE PURSUIT of your dream stop you any longer.  Make this the day to JUST START.