Trusting in the Relatable

We stand on the shoulders of giants.

In my previous life as a Science major, that quote stuck with me. Our forefathers (and mothers) made major discoveries and obtained knowledge that we take for granted today. Often we use that gained knowledge to form our own experiments, make our own discoveries, write our own papers, etc.

Except I always had the thought of “everything that can be written about, has already been written about, how on earth can I come up with something original?”

I had the same approach when I first tried writing speeches for Toastmasters. In amongst trying to get a handle on my nerves, I was trying to find a topic I could “teach” to the audience. I was (and still am) considered young in comparison to the average age of a Toastmaster, everything I have experienced in my short life, my audience has already experienced, many times over. Continue reading

What Do I Want?

Several months ago I had decided this was it: as much as I loved my current workplace and the people in it, I was going to leave. I wanted to try new things. I wanted to see what else was out there in the big wide world.

Credit: Imagebase.net

Credit: Imagebase.net

Continue reading

Road Trip: Oregon Coast

The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page.” – St. Augustine.

I saw that quote on a blank journal in a shop in the UK last year. That quote has always struck a chord with me: how can we begin to understand and broaden our horizons of the world if we do not travel to as many different places as possible?

A friend invited me on a Labour Day long weekend road trip to the Oregon Coast with a group of her friends. Despite all my initial fears (what if I get carsick?) I accepted. Heck, you only live once…and I made sure to buy a ton of Gravol. Continue reading

Two Words for Humour

A few months ago at a club meeting, one Toastmaster asked another member the following question:

“In two words, how would you describe how you incorporate humour?”

The question spawned my own internal challenge. If I could describe my own take on incorporating humour in two words, which two would I choose?

After months of deliberation, I finally came up with my answer.

Continue reading

Lessons from New Members

This week I found myself at my home club fulfilling the role of Table Topics Master. It was a role I had done many times before: think of questions (preferably related to the theme), and remember to confirm with timers and evaluators. However on this day one of our newest members, Ming, approached me at the break. Continue reading

Poise of a Champion

Monday night I found myself attending the local Division L International Speech and Evaluation Contest after receiving an invitation from a friend. This was the first non-home Division contest I attended, and I was quite happy to see a number of familiar faces.

One of those familiar faces was a Toastmaster by the name of Chris Archer. We had never been formally introduced (I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t know my name) but I had seen his speech on Saturday when he presented his speech at the famous Just Pros Dragon’s Den. Both versions of the same speech were almost the same, word for word: a great speech then and a great one now.

Yet, something was different. Continue reading

Trusting Myself Again

I am standing at the top, looking over the side. Pouring rain and strong winds made the water and snow pellets hit my face so hard I thought this was Mother Nature’s cruel way of giving me a free facial. Visibility had dropped to the point where I could barely make out what the terrain was like at my feet.

I remember what it was like last time.
I can’t do this. Continue reading

Clawing Back Up

The 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russa has really captured my heart with the inspirational background stories. Stories such as the Canadian coach (former Team USA member) that was a Good Samaritan, to Alexander Bilodeau defending his Gold Medal and rushing to the sidelines as soon as he could to find his older brother Frederic, and to Canadian speedskater Gilmore Junio giving up his spot to fellow teammate Denny Morrison and Morrison subsequently clinching a silver medal for Canada. These stories (to me) capture the Olympics spirit.

I was witness to an inspirational story tonight from the Men’s Figure Skating, Short Program. Whenever I watch figure skating events on TV, most skaters seem to take a tumble performing their triple axle and quad jumps. Tonight, against my better judgement, I turned on the TV and started to watch. Continue reading

Conflict: Taking a Step Back

A little while ago, I was invited as a guest to an advanced Toastmasters’ Club. Unbeknownst to me, my great timing had me to visit the club on the same day a Business Meeting was conducted. A lively discussion ensued about whether or not to change/update the membership joining “restrictions” (for lack of a better term) as the club had grown and evolved. Some members were very much in favour of updating the restriction while some members were very vocal about leaving the wording as is, and sticking with the status quo. There is no nice way to put it: the business meeting gave me second thoughts about joining the club.

Why? My reservations had nothing to do with the club or its members. I thought and still very much think highly of the club and the members in it. The membership restriction (while nothing wrong) was something I could not meet from a personal standpoint. I concluded the club and I would not be a good fit; I would continue my search to find an advanced club that would be right for me. No hard feelings.

Fast forward two months. After expressing my reservations to the original gentleman who had invited me (I was curious to find out if the original conflict had been resolved), I found myself back at the exact same club and by sheer fluke, sitting in on another presentation that addressed the stalemate from the original business meeting.

Why? The original Toastmaster convinced me to take a step back and ask myself about my underlying goal: what was it? (To take myself to that next level of public speaking). Would the club help me get there? (Yes.) Would they welcome my potential membership bid? (I believe they would.)

The presentation was an eye opening experience. The chair was masterful at directing the discussion and keeping things on track. In the end it felt like the definition of one word had caused a lot of conflict between the members. A lot of members had thought this one word meant one definition, while another group of individuals (including myself) had another definition of that same word. Both were common definitions but had differing implications. It was only when everyone stepped back and addressed the underlying core, which allowed a potential agreement to be reached.

My mind keeps flipping back to the original stalemate. Everyone had discussed (passionately) whether to change the membership statement, but it was only when we were directed to take a step back did we discover the real conflict had begun with differing definitions of the same word. Arguing over the outcome did not help when not everyone was on the same page.

Perhaps the next time conflict arises, take a step back and ask: what is the conflict? What is the underlying issue? Most importantly, are the conflicting parties arguing from the same page? It may just come down to a difference in definitions.