My First Speech:
The first time I gave a speech to an audience was when I was in School. It was an English Eloquence competition, although I had written good essays for a long time, I had never participated in a speech competition though. My main motivation to enroll in it was that there were only 4 participants including me and statistically I had a 75% chance of getting any prizes at all just for showing up.
The Day of the Speech:
I showed up on the day of the speech competition. I had written a really good essay, or rather my mom wrote a great essay for me. I memorized it as best as I could. I decided not to over complicate everything else from body language, voice tonality, pitch , delivery etc and simplified it into just two simple rules to be followed:
Rule 1) Do not look at the paper in hand or at the Floor.
Rule 2) Do not look at my English teacher. (It scared me to look at her. I thought I would freeze !!)
But there was never a moment I did not break the two rules I had set for myself. i.e for the entire duration of my speech, I stared either at the paper, or floor or at my English teacher.
25% chance event and my crushed Ego:
There were butterflies in my stomach and I had my first out of the body experience. I had no idea what I was saying and everything seemed to be happening around me.
It wasn’t a surprise to me or for anyone in attendance when the 25% chance event occurred. My idea of becoming a BIG leader came crashing down. Having been an over achiever most of my life, coming 4th out of four people was unfathomable to my young mind.
The Paper I did ‘Not’ Present:
A few years hence, when I was doing my professional course in cost accounting, the staff in the institute asked us to participate in a paper submission a title that I did not understand ‘Economic Value Addition(EVA) to Stakeholders’. At that time, I did not know what a paper presentation was, neither did I understand what EVA was or who stakeholders were. A senior who was walking out of the institute after submitting his paper gave me a briefing on the concept and gave me some references. Borrowed some books, haunted the library and searched some in internet (those were the pre google Era’s). The paper was presented on stage by my friend with whom I worked together for submission and this time to everyone’s surprise including ours and to the senior from whom I got the briefing from We Won. It was a national level convention and I wasn’t even on stage the whole time except while collecting the prize.
The Hidden Truth and Changed Beliefs:
In order to escape from being punished for coming late, I showed my college gatekeepers the certificate. It magically landed in my principal’s hands and was given a standing ovation in the college assembly for this prize. My whole department started sending any and every paper presentation directly to me instead of in the circular. I was even asked to deliver a lecture on an economics concept for the class, a lecture which I hardly attended, as attendance was not compulsory in that subject due to some administrative goof up.
Everybody believed I could give a great presentation, when I myself had not thought so. And magically I started doing it, over and over in my class, in a number of colleges on various technical paper presentations. I also campaigned for a class mate for the college elections, did Master of Ceremony for my senior batch farewell, and also in ICMA Institute student convention.
In my first company, I conducted training for freshers, for quality associates and once even for the customer.
In my MBA, I became the go to person for the group presentation on any topic. I joined toastmasters and I presented 10 + speeches and obtained the Competent Communicator Award. I won some club level competitions, and managed the Toastmaster club as VP education for a long time.
A Reality built of Misinformed Beliefs:
My first experience could have been the only time I had ever spoken to a group of people. But fortunately someone with misinformation believed in me, when I did not believe in myself and in that false belief I created my reality, the ability to stand up and speak, reported as the most dreaded fear for human beings.
Mountain inside you:
It’s not coincidental that this post shares a theme with my last post on my mountaineering expedition. I wanted to show to you that you do not have climb mountains to overcome your limiting beliefs. The mountains that are to be climbed are inside ourselves. We have in many ways and everyday circumstances carry our limited beliefs and let us stop it from becoming who we are. The skeptic inside you may think, I will believe it when I see it, but the truth in life, everything has been brought to life my somebody who believed to be possible or true what until then was untrue and impossible.
Medical Field has long known the effects of the belief system on us. Sugar coated pills have cured people of various limitations from fear of height to serious fatal diseases like Brain tumor and Blood Cancer. In fact, in the book ‘Predictably Irrational‘, Dan Ariely talks about a surgeon who gave the patient a make believe surgery by taking them to the operating room, giving them anesthesia, cut and stitched back but did not operate on them, and the patient recovered from the ailment as well as the patient who was operated on, questioning any need for surgery at all even for serious ailments.
This shows very well, for you to believe in something or someone, your belief don’t even have to be true. If you think about it, there is no greater freedom that that !! Do you think its not possible to learn a new language at this age, or learn to drive a car, Do you think you are too young or too old to start a company, of the wrong gender to do something, quit your job and travel, too poor to serve the world ? How do you know if any of this is true at all and even if it does is there any thing that cannot be changed by changing your beliefs.