Success Takes Time And Effort

“Story… Message… Gain…”

“Thank you for sharing your beautiful voice. You do sound like a deejay.”

 

I was asked by our club president to represent my club (again) for the upcoming impromptu speech contest. Without batting an eyelash, I said “Yes”.

It brought to mind how I started in toastmasters.

I was told to be reasonably good in prepared speeches where my evaluators would usually highlight my good voice projection and body language during evaluations. However, one thing that they cannot sugar-coat is my performance during table topics or impromptu speaking. I absolutely abhorred table topics because I was not good in organizing my thoughts instantly. I am an IT auditor, and I am trained to carefully plan and revise my work (several times) until I’ve met standards.

The first time I was called to participate is still vivid in my mind. “Mothers know best” was the topic given to me.

I can still recall how I responded. I just stood in front and stared at the far end of the room. Then, I said nothing, except “uhs” and “uhms” repeatedly — as if I was meditating. Then, the general evaluator, who probably saw the need to abet me, stood up. She gave me a reassuring smile and said:

“Story… Message… Gain…” <with pregnant pauses in between>

She said nothing in her evaluation except extending her admiration in my “beautiful” voice. <Her words, not mine.>

That experience made me return in the succeeding club meetings. However, it scared the hell out of me every time the meeting hosts would approach the table topics portion.

I would do what I could just to avoid participating in table topics — going to the toilet, staring at my shoes or looking up at the ceiling. Honestly, none of those worked. I find it weird and felt that the table topic masters were really intent on calling me most of the time. And, every time I would always stutter and talked incoherently.

One time, I approached one member who was really good in impromptu speaking. I wanted to know his secret because I wanted to overcome this awkward feeling. Besides, I have this image (in my mind) of myself winning in the district — speaking eloquently while mesmerizing my audience.

He shared that he started like me. He also shared how he overcame his issues. These included practicing everyday and by not opening your mouth without knowing  how you want to end your piece. So taking a cue from his lead, I also practiced day-in and day-out. I tried my best to put his tips into practice. I would randomly select topics from a book of quotations and practiced repeatedly.

Then, several months after that fate played its tricks on me. The club president asked me to represent the club. After a lot of prodding, I said “Yes”.

I was really hesitant in joining, and not sure why I agreed to do it. Nonetheless, I was fortunate to win as the Area Champion. I did not win in the division but bagging the area championship was more than enough. I was so happy with that milestone because for me that was already unexpected. Imagine none of my club members went to witness my performance (except one who came in late). So when I announced to them that I bagged the area championship, they were all smiles.

Delivering my piece during the Area contest for Table Topics

Well, it was hard work paying off. I did practice — a lot. And my housemates can vouch how they would hear me practicing inside the confines of our bathroom.

Once again, I was invited to represent the club. And without hesitation this time, I agreed.

I am not sure what will happen in the coming contest. But honestly I don’t really care. All I want now is to just enjoy the experience. Anyway, it is tiring  to be scared of the things that are unknown. Additionally, I still practice a lot because I know I am still really far from that desired image of myself.

So come contest day, I will do what I could and just have fun in the process. And whatever happens, I will still practice until I become who I picture myself in my mind.

And, that’s what I would like to leave to all you.

We all want to succeed. Bear in mind, however, that great things take time and effort.

You want to reach your desired destination, then do not stop until you get the result you desire. Push yourself. Let yourself evolve. Aim to never stop improving.

The most important is … be intentional with your actions. Every step that you are taking and planning to take should be aligned to where you want to be.

At the end of everything, I know that you will realize your aspirations.

Believe me.

 

PS: Featured Image is taken from https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/04/03/08/30/silhouette-1304141_960_720.jpg


Action — the distance between your Plans and your Reality

More than ten years ago, I had an inkling that I would have difficulty getting promoted.

I was good with the technical aspect of my work. From feedback provided, I was adept at doing the analysis and coming up with good recommendations. I could sift through subjects more efficiently compared to some. Some even dubbed me as the “Special Engagement Boy” because of the projects assigned to me. The problem, however, was that I could not string good sentences together in front of our clients — in English. That was a BIG PROBLEM because selling our services is the bread-and-butter of my employer.

I remember this one incident at a client’s office.

It was during a kick-off meeting for a project. My boss requested us to  introduce ourselves to the group where we have foreign participants. I planned a brief introduction about myself and my involvement in the project. However, it didn’t come out as planned in my mind.  It was a disaster!

I stuttered the whole time…

“Ps” and “Fs”, “Os” and Us”, and “Is” and “Es” interchanged…

English was my waterloo.

One thing about me though is that I never let difficulties stop me from realizing my plans. So, I immediately went to Google and typed “How to improve your communication skills”. And, top on the list was “Toastmasters International”.

I saw several contact information and sent SMS to the listed numbers. I got two replies. One texted back that their next meeting was two weeks from that day. Another one told me that they were meeting that night. And because I have my plans of getting promoted — and I didn’t want anything delaying that — I went to that meeting.

In that meeting, I realized that the group was composed of really good communicators. I learned that most of them were trainers. I couldn’t say anything when I was requested to provide feedback, except for one sentence — “You are all intimidating.” But I know how to handle fear, so I immediately signed up and volunteered to deliver week after that meeting my very first speech project. (The club meets weekly.)

Hard work and perseverance were two traits I got from my parents. And, I knew that our learning pace would depend on ourselves, not others. So without anyone egging me, I pushed myself to deliver projects, two to three times a month, until I completed all basic speech projects. Not only that, I knew that my weak spot was impromptu, so I looked for people in that group who could mentor me. Then, I tried putting recommendations given to me into practice. Also, I didn’t just rely on the weekly meetings. I would find time every day to practice by speaking on three impromptu topics in front of the mirror.

Let’s fast-forward to the future.

I still get cold feet when someone speaks in straight English before me. The only difference is… I am now better equipped. And, I’ve gained confidence.

My journey as a toastmaster not only helped me get that promotion. It helped me discover what I can do. It gave me a realization that I can go beyond my original plan… of just being promoted.

I joined several speech contests. And became an area champion for Table Topics (Impromptu) and Division first runner-up for the International category. I tried my luck with Humorous category where I lost in the area, and there were only two of us competing. LOL.

Career-wise… The skills I got from toastmasters helped me advance my journey as a professional:

…trotting the globe for seven years and being promoted several times.

…given an opportunity to conduct seminars to three big professional organizations in the country.

…served as a host to several national conferences.

…invited to provide consultancy service to a Rockefeller and Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

…provided with an opportunity to serve ISACA as one of the board of trustees for three years now.

And now, serving as the Audit Committee Chair in the District 75 of Toastmasters International (the national level).

Friends, we all have plans. And most of the time, our plans are really big and generous because after all, IT IS FREE. Like probably, becoming a successful sales manager, get promoted as the next company vice president, or get our works published. The problem, however, is that most of the time WE DO NOTHING to make our plans a reality.

By doing nothing, however, our plans degrade to JUST FANTASIES.

I am encouraging all of you to not just plan great things. You have to act on those! And you need to START NOW — not tomorrow, not next week. NOW! Also, don’t waste your time by merely playing everything in your mind. Your plans would be more fulfilling if you are actually living them.

Why am I sharing this? Because I want you to realize the plans and dreams in your life…

Always remember that the distance between your plans and your reality is ACTION.

 

PS1: Try this John Maxwell book. This will teach you to not only communicate but to connect with people.

PS2: In highschool, I got 99 in Mathematics, 98 in Chemistry and 97 in Physics. For English, however, never mind… Further, in college, all my papers (in COMMUNICATION I and II) were almost red from start to finish from the corrections provided by our professor.

PS3: I’m still not really comfortable with impromptu speaking. At least now, however, I’m better equipped.

PS4: I-Connect TMC (my toastmaster club) meets every Saturday, 3:30pm to 5:30pm at Dome Cafe, Ground Floor, Shangrila Mall. Join us. Send me a message here – via comment and we will contact you. 

PS5: If you want, there are also available online classes that you can try. It can also help you improve your speaking skills. Click Here!


Day dreaming when you’re not getting any younger…

Last July 28, I indulged El Presidente TMC by serving as test speaker and evaluator in their club contest. Of course, I always say “Yes” to the mother club of  my home club (I-Connect TMC). I delivered the very first speech I drafted in my whole life (with the assistance of a friend, Pabs Samson) – DAY DREAMING. I delivered it for my COMM 3 (Speech Communication class) as final project. Thank you El Presidente for having me.

It was fun listening to the evaluators. Imagine four feedback in one delivery, a dream for many toastmasters. One feedback that I like most is when I was told to include in the speech the impact of day dreaming to where I am now and what I do. LOL. Of course, I forgot that the speech was written more than 15 years ago. I should have updated the material.

Looking at myself now. Yes, I still find time to go back to my dreams. Every morning while jogging near my residence, I would think of the things happening in my life and the status I want to attain. Dream car… Dream house… Zero debt…

It provides me with catharsis – a temporary escape from my reality. It also gives me constant reminders not to settle with what I have and where I am. Though it scares me sometimes that my dreams are so big… Some might call these “unrealistic”. I’m also not getting any younger. I sometimes wonder if I’ll be able to realize all of these.

Nahhh…

Whether you dream big or small… Whether you’re seasoned or not… What really matter is YOU KEEP ON DREAMING.

 

 

PS: I-Connect TMC meets every Saturday, 3:30pm to 5:30pm at Dome Cafe, Ground Floor, Shangrila Mall. Join us. Send me a message here – via comment and we will contact you. BTW, I won’t post your comments. I will be the only one who would be able to read this.


Fear is both IMAGINARY and REAL

“No one can make you feel insecure without your consent.”

That was the table topic given to me when I joined the Table Topics Area Contest years ago (where I was fortunate to have won as the Area Champion). I can recall vividly how I handled the topic. I touched on “Fear as both imaginary and real”.

We all want to reach greater heights in the future – top notch sales manager/marketer, trotting the globe, or writing our book.

However, as we take steps and more steps to realize our goals, we will be confronted with challenges left and right. These challenges are mostly unknown, will most likely surprise us and will CREATE FEAR. These may be fear of something small (like cockroaches),  something tall (like fear of heights) or something we don’t know (which can sometimes cross to paranoia).

There is something though that we need to realize when we talk about fear. Fear is both imaginary and real.

It is IMAGINARY because EVERYTHING IS IN YOUR MIND. Not in your friend’s or in your boss’ – ONLY YOURS.

It is REAL because it can STOP YOU FROM SUCCEEDING. It can stop you from reaching that sales quota, trotting the globe and publishing your work. It can even physically hurt you or the people around you.

Fear, however, is something we can (and we should) manage.

I remember more than 10 years ago, I was so comfortable with my job. Some people dubbed me as the “Special Engagement Boy” – because of the projects assigned to me. Time came when I wanted to explore outside. I was dissuaded by my superiors and was told that a bright future was waiting for me if I stay. Some even went the extra mile by contacting former employees of the company I planned to transfer to, and had them talked to me to change my mind. Honestly, I was so AFRAID TO MAKE THAT DECISION. I feared getting out of that “box” where I was already shining in my own way. Then, I TOOK THE RISK. I handed my resignation letter.

It was a decision that I would never regret. It gave me the chance to trot the globe (in business class flights and really nice hotels). It gave me the chance to add “international flavor” under my sleeves. It gave me know-how that I believe I would not gained had I not joined this company.

Then after almost 7 years, time came again when another opportunity beckoned me. Problem was that I was again so comfortable with where I was. I also felt that once more…  I was shining in my own way. Thus, I FEARED LEAVING.

Upon reflection, I felt, however, that the new opportunity will give me new insights that I would not gain from where I was (because of future plans). So I again suppressed the fear lingering inside me. I made that decision to LEAVE MY COMFORT ZONE despite the incentives being dangled in front of me.

At the new turf, I was so scared because a lot of THINGS WERE NEW to me. But then again learning and new experience came pouring in. I once again find myself enjoying the new environment.

Deep inside I keep on telling myself: “YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY to realizing your plans.” I’m still not there but I believe that I’m getting there…

We should not allow our fears prevent us from taking steps.

Here is my “take-away” for all of you.

When you feel that fear is creeping at the time when you are exploring an opportunity, you just do it.

Just jump to it…

Execute that plan!

Buy that ticket!

Start writing!

Fear can never cripple you, unless you allow it…
 


Always Bounce Back

“Overweight”

“Cholesterol level dangerously high”

“You are at risk of a heart attack”

I was a walking time bomb ready to explode anytime because of my failing health.

I have hit rock bottom.


Fellow toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon:

I heard those lines after my annual medical exam. I was suddenly struck by the realization that I might die young. In fact I was dying slowly. It hit me hard.

I suddenly remembered my father.  Gone at the age of 45, exactly a month after hearing those lines from his doctor. We were devastated financially and emotionally. I’m nearing that age… the nightmare of dying young hit me hard.


In my desire to have a healthy body, I went through 3 attempts:

  • I joined a dragon boat team. The discipline of waking up early and rowing passionately at the Manila Bay came to a sudden stop when a flesh-eating bacteria got into a tiny cut in my leg. I was hospitalized for 5 days and spent P110,000.
  • I did juicing. It was working for some time but my mind was bombarded with thoughts of delicious food which my body was craving to take. On my third day, I splurged on a hefty serving of steak and mashed potatoes.
  • I attempted running. I would run every day until I felt a searing pain from my back down to my left knee. I ended up having slipped disks. It took weeks for me to recover.


Three attempts…three failures…They all hit me hard.

I was on the verge of giving up and let nature takes its course. I needed a rope to hang on, to get me back… Suddenly my eyes drifted to the pictures of the two most important people in my life.

  • Yuni- my 12 year old daughter. I want to provide the best for her and be with her as she goes thru her journey in life.  And should the right time come… walk her down the aisle and enjoy the company of my grandchildren.
  • Wanna- my life partner. We have been through life’s ups and downs. We knew how it was to be left by our fathers and saw how our mothers raised family as single parents.  I want to be with her until we grow old and grey…to experience life’s challenges and surprises together. I want to serve her, make her happy and love her…. forever.
  • Jake- yes I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to actualize my sense of purpose in helping others be the best they can be.  I want to provide for my loved ones and let them experience the things they have not experienced in the past.  I want to continue being amazed by what life is bringing me.

“Overweight”, “Cholesterol high” “At risk of a heart attack”.  These words shook me with such fear that I know I will not stop until I know I’ve done all I can to shift to be a healthy me – a life ensuring that I can be around longer.

Fellow toastmasters, in a world full of choices, let us always connect to our core being in consciously making and acting on decisions that really matter.  Be it in our health, in our career, in our relationship, let us be guided by our life vision and mission.

So where am I now?

I’m a work in progress. Regular exercises, right food and making each time count.

Fellow toastmasters, has anything hit you so hard that your world seemed to have fallen apart? Has anything hit you just as hard that your very life was threatened?

Don’t let it crush or devour you. Take a long honest look at what’s hitting you. Listen, act and do something before it destroys you. After all, whatever life throws at us, we can always hit back.

Contest chair.

Note: This speech was the one I delivered during the 2016 Division A Contest in the International Speech Category (where I ranked first runner-up). Thanks to my TM mentors for their continuous support and feedback –   Edith Garde, DTM; Ida Sih, DTM; Lavi Penaverde, ACG; and Mylene Bass, CC. Original Title was “HIT”.