The Freedom to Fail

Fellow FOTM club members. I learned something this year and I wanted to share it with all of you and say Thank you! Each and every one of you who make up First Oakville Toastmasters. A short time ago, I gave a speech. It was the 5th speech project from the cc manual – the one where the objective is to use gestures. I had volunteered to fill another members speaking spot and I struggled to decide whatto talk about that would allow me to focus on gestures worried about having only two weeks to craft and practice.

When I joined Toastmasters I made a promise to myself, “I will do that which I don’t want to do”. This guiding principal of my toastmasters experience has brought me out of my comfort zone and led to absolutely fantastic learning experiences. These include:

  • competing in the evaluation contest in my second week as a FOTM member,
  • volunteering at an area contest hosted at another club,
  • competing in the International Speech contest,
  • signing up as a test speaker for an area evaluation contest, and
  • on this day in October 2015, changing my mind on the speech to give the day before the meeting.

When my new speech idea forced it’s way into my head the day before our meeting, I knew it was better. I realized that it actually followed my mentor’s advice for this project, unlike the other two other speeches I had been playing with, and the one I was planning to give. I was terrified when I realized that I was seriously considering using the new idea instead of what I had practiced.  This new idea, it had an “entertaining” flavor to it and all I could think was “I’m not funny!”, “People won’t laugh, or they will laugh at me!”, ” I will look ridiculous.”, and “There’s no time to practice, can this possibly work?”.

At the meeting, I still hadn’t decided which speech I was going to give. But, I looked around the room. I looked at all my fellow toastmasters and new friends. I  looked around and I knew two things:

1. I knew that even if I:

  • messed up completely,
  • failed to make anyone laugh or even crack a smile,
  • bored you all to tears,
  • couldn’t stretch it out for 5 minutes,
  • went over the allotted 7 minutes because I hadn’t had time to practice the delivery and perfect the timing, or
  • failed completely at my attempt to entertain

…you would all support my effort in trying. You would all smile, and nod, and clap for me. Your support is the support of an audience that wants me to succeed and supports me no matter what. You make it safe to try anything!

2. We can fail. Safely. Surrounded by friends.

Realizing that gave me the courage to be brave, try something that terrified me more than anything else I’ve tried yet at Toastmasters, and I want to thank you all for that.

 Thank you toastmasters of First Oakville for giving me the freedom to fail!

An atmosphere that where we can feel comfortable failing is something that not all clubs achieve. And I am so proud of you all and so honoured to be accepted by such a supportive club.

As a final thought, I encourage each one of you, whether you are a long-standing member or one of the new members just inducted, use our club to test your limits. Try something scary. Accept the possibility of failure. You may just surprise yourself with unexpected success….

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