Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Have a Dream

Two years ago, I was just another struggling middle-career woman who like so many before her, feared presentation. It was an unspoken belief that people who could talk and deliver a presentation are those who are capable. I tried real hard to conquer this fear but everything the fear debilitated even my ability to stand still on stage. My wavering voice was trembling with so much fear that I could not think properly.

The sheer refusal to give up led me to the Toastmasters' Movement. And the rest as they say is history. Today, I volunteer to speak as I know that practice is the only way. Yes, there are mistakes. Yes, there are disappointment. But with each failure, I learn something new. I used to be a very shy person. But lo and behold, shy is hardly the word, my friends know me as today. The Toastmasters' Movement is a life transformational one.

Today, I am also given more speaking opportunities as I hone my skills. I realise that I have an ability to breakdown difficult to understand issues into more digestible bite-sized information for my audience. Not worrying too much about the stage fright, I begin to focus on my audience. What I want my audience to bring back home and how can I help better understand the issue.

The Toastmasters' Movement has rekindled my ability to dream. It's really a very simple formula - Practise, practise & more practise. Isn't this the same idea the book "The Story of Success - Outlier" by Malcolm Gladwell trying to say? And if this advice has a familiar to it, it is because it has been used again and again. Not only in the arena of public speaking but in all walks of life.

It is off the beaten track and it does not guarantee success. In fact, I have a bout of burnout recently. I was the overdrive mode - going on full steam to complete more Toastmasters' projects and participating in competitions. And I struggled to juggle my time in the many multiple roles which I needed to play on the stage of life. I felt myself reaching a plateau in the arena of speaking and any more incremental improvement will be at the expense of more time. Yet, time was a zero-sum game. An hour for honing my speaking skills would mean an hour less for my other commitments.

I took a two-to-three months' break. During this cooling-off time, I realise that it is not about the number of projects that I do. It is not about the improvement that I will see in myself. It is about giving back to the Toastmasters' Movement which has transformed me.

With this newly-found direction, I took part in the recent Achievers' Day held at Whampoa CC. And I am glad that I re-initiated my toastmasters' journey. And thanks to fellow Toastmaster Jerlynn Ang who is also my evaluator that day - You are ever so encouraging and offering such fantastic advices. I especially like your opening address which I have paraphrased below:

"One can choose to be either average or excellence in life. Yet majority choose to be just mediocre. They would want to be the top, they wish to be the best, they hope they are the creme de la creme. However, those who choose to be excellence, must achieve that goal."

It is tough to opt to be excellence. But with the Toastmasters' Movement, we can be excellent as we are in the good hands.

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