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Why compete?

In Aha!, Epiphanies, Leave Your Comfort Zone, Toastmasters on March 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm
1st Place Trophy for the International Speech Contest in Area 63, District 29, Toastmasters International, Spring 2014. Wow! So now I've got to refine, rehearse, and recite my speech yet again to an even larger audience.

1st Place Trophy for the International Speech Contest in Area 63, District 29, Toastmasters International, Spring 2014. Wow! So now I’ve got to refine, rehearse, and recite my speech yet again to an even larger audience.Why compete?

“And the 2nd place finisher — who will represent our club at the area contest if the 1st place winner is not able to attend — is ____ _____.”

Those are the words that I remember hearing earlier this month after competing in our club-level speech contest.  Yes, I had placed 2nd. Which is also known as “first loser” in our super competitive society where winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.

But what if I re-frame my thinking? Is there a lesson to be learned in placing 2nd and then substituting for your club’s champion?

Why DO we compete?

Or as Colin T. William, a finalist in the 2008 World Championship of Public Speaking so aptly wrote for The Toastmaster magazine: (http://www.toastmasters.org/ToastmastersMagazine/ToastmasterArchive/2009/March/Articles/No-One-Loses.aspx)

“So what can you take from competing in [a speech contest]? Whether you reach the final round or are defeated at the club level, the potential rewards are rich and varied. They include benefiting from the following kinds of experiences:
– Speaking under pressure, and challenging yourself to be even better than you think you could be.
– Sharing a message you truly believe with an audience that needs to hear it.
– Meeting other strong speakers, and learning from their styles.
– Refining a speech, making it better every time you deliver it.
– Giving a speech to different audiences, from [the club level and beyond].
– Speaking in front of large and unfamiliar audiences.
– Developing and perfecting entirely new speeches if you win … and doing this in a relatively short period of time.
– Handling defeat gracefully, which all of us except one person – the ultimate winner – will have the opportunity to do.”

So there you have it. We compete so as to continually improve ourselves. And hopefully we run in such a way that others are also called to the race.

JL

PS: And for any former district officers who’ve decided to compete now that they are eligible … Coming up with material which isn’t related to one’s duties or the administration of ones office can be fun.

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