Friday, February 17, 2006

Transfer-Wk 15,Wed.-Toastmasters speech contest

Yesterday was actually a pretty busy day for me speech wise. I thought I had therapy follow up, although what I really had was a poorly entered calendar appointment. But Lori saw me for 20 minutes anyway. We discussed my problem with the phrase PHP, where I always bomb on the last ‘P’. She agreed with my analysis that it may be an air problem, and focusing more on a full breath should resolve it.

After my therapy, I went through another drive thru. So this would be drive thru #4. I was fluent, but target execution was less than optimal. Not what I would consider a success.

Last evening, I went to toastmasters. Due to my feelings that a Toastmasters club for I.T. Professionals, would provide tremendous value for all involved; I am attempting to qualify to start a club ASAP. Part of the qualifications to start a club, I believe (I still haven’t received my manuals), include getting my Competent Toastmaster designation. This would involve the completion of 10 speeches, so I am booking a speech at every available opening.

Well, I tried to book something about a month ago, but the schedule was packed, with the first opening last night. Which just happened to be the annual club speech contest. Since it would be my only opportunity till late March, I signed up.

Once a topic, from the quantity floating around my head, was selected, writing a solid speech wasn’t a problem. However, 10 minutes before the start of the contest, when I started viewing my competition as “competition”, and noticed the intensity of their practice … well, let’s just say, I starting wondering if I was in over my head. ;-)

Anyway, I read my speech, from behind the podium. My targets were hit or miss. I would self correct when I started stuttering, then get on a role with great target execution. But within 2-3 sentences my targets were being missed again.

I set everything up to tape it with my new voice recorder, but was thinking so much about my speech, that I only remembered to press the record button after starting. I wasn’t about to interrupt my speech to turn it on, so I don’t have an audio for the blog. Too bad, I could have done some great target analysis from it.

Only 5 of the 7 entered speakers showed up, and this was merely a pre-qualifying round to bring the final contestants down to 4. I recognized this as an interesting dynamic, since this contest would not determine a winner … but a loser … the biggest loser.

You are the weakest link. Goodbye.

While I received several compliments on the writing of my speech, and I think I earn extra points for getting up there with my stutter; there was no doubt in my mind, I was clearly the underdog. And I was about to be declared the biggest loser. ;-)

But fate intervened. Due to the fact that I was merely signing up to do my second toastmasters speech, not win a contest, I paid absolutely no attention to the rules. Apparently all entrants need minimum 6 speeches, so I was not qualified to be in the contest in the first place. Before being disqualified, I was asked if I would like to do 4 speeches in the next week to qualify, but with a baby on the way, it “ain’t gonna happen”. So I took advantage of the semi-honorable disqualification, and sat down. If anybody asks why I was disqualified, I’ll tell them (in a bad fake French accent) it’s because “I’m too sexy”. ;-)

I got a ribbon, but I really don’t feel it was given to me as being anything more than a “Good effort, don’t be discouraged”. So; no picture of it on my blog.

Anyway, I plan to deliver a memorized speech in front of the podium for speech #3.

But my most interesting thing happened on my way home, when I stopped at a store, and ran into a girl I’ve only met once before at toastmasters. Normally, when I run into somebody like this, I will avoid them like the plague. Why? Well because in my experience it usually goes in one of 2 directions; 1) They don’t remember me, I stutter, they think I’m a crazy stranger, and I feel like an ass. Or 2) They do remember me, but when I stutter, they feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, and I feel like an ass. So clearly avoidance is an attractive strategy when faced with outcomes like that.

Instead though, I held the door open for her, and said something like “Hello. I missed seeing you tonight”. And I talked to her for 10 minutes. It wasn’t until we parted company, that I realized that was something I never, NEVER, EVER, would have done before my therapy.

The biggest benefit received from therapy, may not be my speech. It may be the social reintegration of everyday life!

Not meant as advice, please find a qualified therapist if you are interested in similar therapy.


At Friday, February 17, 2006 9:27:00 AM, Blogger Rob said...

Great post, John

I don't know what to say other than that!


At Friday, February 17, 2006 10:16:00 AM, Blogger John MacIntyre said...

Thanks Rob.

By the way, half way down that post, I said "I think I earn extra points for getting up there with my stutter".

I just want to clarify, I don't think I "deserve" or am "entitled to" extra credit. But I feel others may give me a slight advantage, due to my handicap.

Also, I wanted to post my speech, but since it wasn't really relevant, I left it out. But I'd like to include it here.


[Fiddle with cell phone]

Sorry, just checking if my phone is turned on. Yes, I realize it is not customary to leave a phone on during a speech, and I hope it’s not interpreted as a lack of respect.

You see, I am expecting a visitor to our world. A visitor I’ve never met, but who will soon change the life of my family forever.

This visitor is the final member of a 3 person team, who will propagate my genetic structure and values long after death. Thereby; giving my wife and I indirect influence spanning a century past our own mortality.

Possibly more influence than I deserve.

Possibly more influence than I can handle responsibly.

Does this visitor come from another dimension?

Well ... depending on your religious beliefs … maybe yes.

Will it spring from my wife’s belly like a sci-fi thriller?

Well … Yeah.

Who is this visitor?

This visitor is my new son or daughter. He/She is expected within the next 2 weeks, but according to my wife has a probable ETA in the next 2 minutes.

This will not be my first, I have a 16 year old daughter and a 3 year old son. Both of whom, I love very much. They bring joy to my life in ways I never would have expected.

I remember meeting my daughter for the first time. She just turned 4, and spent several minutes sizing me up like an over zealous father. Then she tried to get rid of me.

Meeting my son was a little more conventional. There wasn’t a lot of sizing me up, but there was the occasional poop.

It’s amazing really. Leading up to the birth of my son, I knew I would have to help out, and even occasionally change a dirty diaper. But changing my first diaper, wasn’t a chore which was forced upon me. It was just something which needed to be done, I just did it, washed my hands, and it was over. I wasn’t disgusted by it, actually I was just happy to have been able to help the little guy.

You know, although I had an older daughter, I really wasn’t in any hurry to have the remainder of my children. The timing was mostly based on Tanya’s age and the approaching age-associated risks.

But once Nicholas was born … WOW!!!! This is great!!!… We should have done this 10 years ago! We could’ve had a dozen by now!

I had no idea until I had kids.

But this is a serious undertaking. One which, my wife and I, take on with little guidance and no proverbial manual. We will attempt to pass on our strengths while reducing our limitations. At least the limitations we are not too limited to recognize.

It’s a world of balance.

How do I coach without coddling or pushing?

How do I persuade without manipulating?

How do I protect without over-protecting?

I want my kids to find the greatness within themselves. Personally, I believe you are happiest while growing. I would like my kids to find their passion, and pursue it with all their energy.

I want them to lead their field and make a difference; like Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, John Lennon, Wayne Gretzky, George Washington, Mother Theresa, or Albert Schweitzer.

But not too great. Greatness which last 1 or 2 centuries is enough.

Those who achieve greatness which lasts beyond 200 years, by definition live a life which is marred by conflict and/or tragedy. Mahatma Ghandi, Napoleon, Martin Luther King, or even Jesus.

I do not wish that level of greatness on anybody.

One thing I do know about my kids though, is that I will not know until they are in their 30s just what kind of job I’ve done. And then it’s too late.

So wish me luck, my journey will expand within the next 2 weeks. It will last another 20 years with the final result not being readily apparent until 2036.

At Friday, February 17, 2006 11:00:00 AM, Blogger MarvThroneberryII said...

Good luck and keep up the good work in the trenches, extended here, John.

Must say that you have a gift with the written word where the verbal fails you. Used to think that I could jot down some things of profundity in lieu oc compensation with my own verbal bugbear, but I see I met my match and then some when I read your blog and comments.

At Friday, February 17, 2006 2:19:00 PM, Blogger John MacIntyre said...

Thanks Steppendaft,

You know, up until a very short time ago, I've had zero interest in writing. Or at least that's what I've thought.

What I've always wanted to do, is read and think all day. Seriously! Every lotto ticket I buy is for that purpose.

But it's just occurred to me in the past month that this is the job description of a writer ... pretty much.

One thing that has really influenced me recently is finding Steve Pavlina's blog. This guy writes about personal development all day everyday. In just over a year, he has increased his traffic to something like 700,000 visits per month! And through donations, Google Adsense revenue, and other ads he makes a pretty good living. $4,700 last month from adsense alone. And he's really not even tapped into the real value of his blog yet.

I'm really motivated to start a blog at a similar level of a quality, but instead of on Personal Development or Stuttering; it would be on the stock, commodity, and option markets.

I've just got to transition out of the rat race some how.

But enough about me.

I would encourage you to pursue writing if it compels you. My biggest tricks are
1) make a list of everything you want to say
2) write, reread, & edit out any fluff
3) use the thesaurus on anything you feel could be even slightly improved.



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