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

1 comment:

  1. Laurette,
    It is my belief that most people who win the first few rounds of a contest and then lose have your same feelings. If you have the slightest competitive bone in your body it is a disappointment to lose, especially if you feel the judges "blew it". After spending maybe extra hours honing your speech for the next level you may feel it was "a waste of my time". But not really. Someone once said, "that which does not kill you makes you stronger". Thanks for sharing your true feeling. You are not the "lone ranger".


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