I am a Speaker. I lost a Toastmasters Speech Contest. I am a Loser

I am a human being. That means I am ego-centered. I am an intelligent female - I repeat: ego-centered. I embrace this about myself but it does mean that I sometimes need to get over myself and be real.

The internet is a venue by which I can portray any pretense I like. Most people in my circles have been so dang cool, and so supportive, that I need to be a little raw with you right now... a lot vulnerable and completely transparent.
Not too long ago I read a book called "18 Minutes" by Peter Bregman. It was mainly about time management (as many of you know I have OCD about time efficiency so it was right up my alley) but one chapter focused on personal development, which was great. Mr. Bregman wrote something that lingers with me: "Be wrong." The idea is that being wrong helps us develop and grow because it challenges us to improve.
For the past several weeks, I had myself convinced that I was going to win 1st place in the district finals of the Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest. I was wrong. If one looks more closely at the pics I posted on social media, my trophy says "2nd Place". I lost.

Now many, many many lovely and awesome friends have said "no no, you didn't "lose"... yadda yadda" but deep down we all know very well that it really is black and white. Anything other than 1st is a consolation prize. But it's OKAY. Really.

I didn't say anything at first because, and I admit this whole-heartily and with raw vulnerability, my pride was damaged. I was embarrassed. I was bleeding from the ego and I allowed myself exactly one day to tend to my wounds, get over it and move on. It's Monday morning now and I'm glad I allowed myself time to embrace my weakness because I honestly do feel refreshed and renewed and you know what? I'm dang proud of myself.
I was wrong. I lost. And I'm glad. My next speech is shaping up to be a knock-out because it's real, it's raw and it's impassioned with the words I typed out yesterday, high on human emotion.

I learned. I grew.

I entered this competitive journey because I am developing as a professional woman, craving financial independence and reentering the professional world after a 15 year Mom-hiatus. I am learning to recognize and utilize my skills and talents and I was noticing a gap in my ability to infuse humor into my speeches. I'm a very good speaker (there's that ego) but I know that I struggled with humor, which can be critical to a presentation. Now, I've done improv but anyone who has seen me knows that I'm a reactor on stage. I couldn't bring the funny, I could only use what was brought. (actors know what I'm talking about). But as a speaker, I always fly solo so I needed to learn to develop a knack for relevant funny.
I entered the contest at the beginning. And I worked on it, and I asked for advice and I grew and I learned and I threw away what didn't work and kept what did. And I won... and I won again.... and I won again... and I made it to the final round. And I was proud of myself and I was feeling great. And I got up to speak and I nailed my speech! I owned it, I delivered! I was FUNNY! Yes! I accomplished what I set out to accomplish!
And then I waited to hear my name, called third, for 1st place. And the 3rd place name was called, and I was screwing around with my microphone when I heard the sound of my own name being called.... 2nd. Time.  Slowed.   Down.
I was gracious and grateful and, I admit this completely - devastated.
That room suddenly became the longest, biggest, most intimidating room I'd even been in and I felt like I would faint dead away if I didn't escape. Every hand I shook, everyone that greeted me, smiling, hugging, congratulating... I appreciated it and I was so grateful, but it was like getting stabbed over and over again.... They were saying "It was great! I loved it!" but I was hearing "You lost. You're a loser." I held it together though and made the long... ever so very long... ride home from OKC to Tulsa. I listened to rock music, I pondered how I was going to deal with the humiliation. And I decided that I'd allow myself 24 hours to dwell, linger, mope around and get it all out of my system, and then Monday was back to business.
Yesterday afternoon I started working on my next manual speech for Toastmasters. It's called "Loser". Why? Why would I name my speech something so negative? Because it's not negative. It's okay to be wrong. It's okay to lose. In the 24 hours that I allowed myself to really, deeply FEEL this, I realized just how proud of myself I truly am right now. I set out to learn how to infuse humor into my speeches, and improve myself as a speaker/presenter and leader. I accomplished that. I absolutely accomplished that! I set out to develop myself as a person, as a human being and as a woman. I absolutely accomplished that!
My client base is growing. Opportunities are opening on the horizon. Some are the result of the work I have put in over the last couple of years, and some recent opportunities are simply from my experience in the competition adventure. That was really my objective, wasn't it? To expand my horizons and unlock opportunities?
I absolutely accomplished that.
I grew, I learned, and I unlocked opportunities. This means, I accomplished my goal. This means that I lost - and I won. And I won even more through the loss because that 24 hours of "you better check yourself, girlfriend!" REALLY forced me to strengthen my tenacity and deal with my ego. Lets face it, I'd still be hung over otherwise tongue emoticon

I am not the funniest speaker in the state of Oklahoma. And the truth is that I am actually not. I was good, and I was funny, but I wasn't the funniest (and believe me I analyzed it to shreds - and concluded that I was not as funny as I had imagined).

I was however, acknowledged as a great speaker by the most prestigious and recognized speaking organization in the world, and that is tremendous and I'm very proud of that honor!

And with that, my friends, I give you full disclosure. I was wrong, I lost, and I am truly, openly and sincerely thrilled at this moment on this beautiful Monday morning.
Thank you Oklahoma, Thank you former directors and mentors for improv training wink emoticon Thank you family, beautiful kiddos, fantastic friends. Thank you Jane Atkinson for providing intelligent, useful advice and encouragement.  Thank you Toastmasters, My beautiful friends supporters from all over TM Oklahoma, new friends and long time friends. Thank you John Kinde whose wisdom was tremendously beneficial  and Congratulations to the 1st place, and deserving, and very humorous winner, Mike McVey. You are sweet, you are funny, you have beautiful energy! It was an honor to share the stage with you and I look forward to speaking with you again

Empowering Podcast about Talking: Listen To Laurette!

Have you heard?   The Podcast, Listen to Laurette is gaining ground!   I've dusted off my microphone and using it to broadcast to you and the rest of the world, educational, inspirational and motivational messages by using the most powerful tool in existence.  Words.   I talk about talking.  I talk to others who are intelligent, interesting and inspiring.  I invite you to listen in on these unique, lively, provocative and thoughtful conversations!

Guest and topic suggestions are welcomed and encouraged!
Communication is reciprocal so let me hear from you!

Competition is Good for Us!

Competition can be very healthy, when it's done right!   Whatever it is we do, finding a way to compete for a particular goal helps to increase our effectiveness, productivity and overall skill in our endeavors.

I'm honored and excited to have won the 3rd round in a Toastmasters International speaking competition and I'm thrilled to be moving onto the 4th and final round!   I love competing because it keeps me at the top of my game and provides a healthy and productive opportunity to exercise self discipline, deliberate focus.

When we become good at what we do, develop a skill set and then become known for that skill set - we begin enjoying the benefits of utilizing that skill set in our career or our community (hopefully both).  But if we don't keep ourselves sharp - comfort can set in and atrophy can begin creeping up on us.  It is imperative that we keep ourselves challenged so that we can continue to grow, improve and therefore constantly offer the world the very best version of our contribution.  
Here are ways in which  you too can keep yourself at the top of your game by competing!
Whatever it is you do, there's a opportunity to challenge yourself with competition.  Seek out competitive activities that meet the following criteria:

Choose something relevant to your chosen career/endeavor.
Even if it is is not as directly related as a speaking contest for a speaker - there are competitive activities that strengthen the particular muscle set that you use.  Seek these out in your community.  
Choose something that you consider yourself good at -but want to be great!
Don't go off the deep end in the wrong direction and choose something that has nothing to do with who you already are.   I'm not an athlete so I didn't enter a triathlon.  I chose something relevant to my goals, and that relates to a skill set I've already begun building.  

Do Not Yuck My Yum! And other icky opinions...

So I'm just sitting here, at a cute little coffee shop, catching up on some work while my kids are at a rehearsal nearby... and I'm enjoying a cappuccino and a cherry tart, and someone sits next to me, smiles, then looks at my tart and says "Oh, you're having the cherry tart?" and I nod, and she proceeds "Ewe!  Those are gross!  Too sweet for me!"  Wow! Seriously?

Nah, that didn't really happen.  (Well it's all true up to that last part, I made that up to illustrate the point of this post) But can you imagine if it did?  AWKWARD!  Right?  I mean who does that?
Apparently we all do.  Uh-oh!

Here's a true story:
A few years ago I went to my best friend's house for a Pampered Chef party.  In case your not on the Mom - circuit, Pampered Chef is a network marketing business that sells fancy-ish cookware.  The representatives plan parties at the home of a host, products are sampled, sales are made, the host gets freebies, it's a nice night out for Mama.  Pretty standard stuff.   Well Pampered Chef also sells packaged food mixes, sauces, etc.   So there is a lot of food prepared with PC ingredients and using the cookware.

Chastity and Me, many years later... still not yuckin' other people's yum :)
Well the "Rule" of the party was "Don't Yuck My Yum!"  Huh? It means, if you try something and you don't like it, someone else might, so just move along and don't be a jerk.  It struck me funny at the time but it was actually a necessary point to make, because it happens.  And it's applicable not just with food!

Think about how many times you made an unsolicited negative comment about something or offered unfavorable criticism, without an invitation.   You know you have, and so have I and it's actually pretty rude and as such, it is just basic bad form communication.

This afternoon my son joked with my daughter that her sweater was ugly.  They are young teens so naturally, she shot back with what they call a "burn" (and a pretty good one actually - not that I'm condoning it) and because I'm supposed to say parental things during these moments I heard the words come out of my mouth "Don't yuck other people's yum!"   There was a pause of silence before the guffaw, and then the inevitable self-defense "What? I can't have an opinion?"  Yeah, we all have opinions but not all of them have to be verbalized!   So I explained what I meant.  "Your sister likes the sweater, she didn't ask you, there was no reason for you to just blurt it out just to hear yourself speak."

And that's really the gist of it.  What's more, how often to we just blurt out random compliments that are unsolicited.  I'm sure we all do that sometimes, when we are REALLY motivated to do so, but honestly, how often do you offer an unprovoked compliment, compared to how often you offer a criticism?   Why do we do that?  Simple.  We are human and we are egocentric and that means we have weak egos and insecurities because contemporary life beats us up so any chance our subconscious has to placate our ego, it takes... and the easiest route to self stroking is to put someone else or something else down.   You do it, I do it and we are probably going to still do it.

Ah!  But now that I've written this post - and now that you've read it - we will at least try to do it less, and the next time we do, we'll catch ourselves and (if we are decent people) try to dial it back a few notches.   Lets try this instead:  when you think "Yuck!" about something and nobody asked... either clam up OR even better, offer up a compliment on something else.  Do this, and your ego will be greatly satisfied, because it really does feel good to be nice.  :)  So be nice!

Hope this was helpful to you in your quest to improve the way you communicate with your friends, neighbors, associates, teammates, soul-mates, classmates and just fellow human mates.   I know that pondering it helped me :)

And a late thank you to you, Chastity, for hosting that party and setting the Don't Yuck the Yum rule!

Like this?  Hate this?  I invite you to let me knwo.... go ahead!  I'm asking for it :)

A Funny Thing Was Me at Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest

I'm not funny.  Not on purpose anyway and whenever I am the recipient of laughter it's usually by accident.  I'm the girl that tries too hard to be funny and fails.  I'm the speaker that when speaking, tries to include a joke and it sounds forced and unnatural.  I'm the Mom that says awkward things at awkward times prompting eye-rolling and "Ma-ahm!" groans from my pre-teens.

Follow This Blog