The first time I heard about the World Championship of Public Speaking (WCPS) and viewed what I consider to be the best winning speech ever (Darren LaCroix’s 2001 speech “Ouch!”) I was completely blown away. I was insanely excited by the prospect of speaking a message as art. I also thought in the back of my mind, “I could totally do that.”
A few years later I dedicated a year to trying to accomplish just that and launched A Year In the Life of a Toastmaster, an epic, year-long blog chronicling my journey to the championships. SPOILER: I didn’t win that year. However! My perspective and life were blown up into a million little bits and rearranged in a most satisfying way with the birth of my company Head Start Public Speaking For Kids instead.
A couple of years later, I heard that the WCPS was going to be in Vancouver in 2017. What? Vancouver??? You mean I could win it in front of my HOME CROWD???!!! YAHOOOOOOOO!!!!! HAPPY DANCE!!!!!!
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Vancouver
But a funny thing happened on the way to Vancouver. My self satisfaction (which I previously thought might only come through the accolades of a big win) was growing as the self satisfaction of my speaking students grew. I was making changes in the lives of young people and it was blowing my mind and opening my heart. I loved finding fun and innovative ways to help them look for and discover themselves. My business was steadily expanding (as I continued to home school my daughter) so I took a break from speaking altogether while I taught.
Every so often in the back of my mind I’d ask “Are you gonna do it Paula? Are you gonna give it a run in 2017?” And though the highly competitive spirit in me wanted to bolt out of the gate, and the creative part of me loved the process of creating and refining a World Class speech, I found that a big part of me just didn’t care as much anymore. And that was totally okay.
My local Toastmasters Area Director, author Sheila Cameron prompted me numerous times to compete this spring, giving me plenty of time to craft a speech but in the end I discovered that the things I am creating today are of much more worth to me than a speech or even a win, for the World Championship of Public Speaking.
NOW. Don’t get me wrong. I am SUPER PSYCHED that the Worlds are coming to Vancouver. SUUUUUUPER PSYCHED. Did I mention I’m SUUUUUUUUUUPER PSYCHED???? I’ve got my tickets baby. VIP tickets ’cause I wanna be up close to see the speeches delivered and the winner crowned.
AND, I am a vocal and enthusiastic advocate of the District 96 WCPS representative Devon Downie, so much so that I ferried into Vancouver last week to give her some feedback on her already awesome speeches and will happily do it again. I honestly think that she’s got the chops to win the whole damned thing and I hope she does. (I’m also pretty proud to mention that I was the one who encouraged Devon to enter in the first place. :))
The Goal is Not the Goal
So, what am I saying? I’m saying that it is awesome and absolutely essential to have dreams. We need goals to reach for. And it is awesome and absolutely essential to understand the underlying reasons for those dreams.
In the words of my friend, Women’s Life Educator Micaela Pennell, the goal is not the goal. The goal is what we use to propel ourselves forward while we learn and grow into who we are. The questions that Micaela asked me to answer made me look at what I was actually trying to accomplish.
See if you can unearth and satisfy YOUR reasons. There can be a multitude of ways, like I discovered. Head Start Public Speaking For Kids is headed into FRANCHISE territory soon and that’s something I only dreamed of back in 2012. We’ve expanded into THREE CITIES and coached HUNDREDS of KIDS through their fear and into their confidence. We’ve sponsored awards at Festivals of the Performing Arts. We’ve given over a thousand dollars’ worth of scholarships to deserving kids. I feel pretty amazing about those accomplishments. The goal is not the goal.
The speakers at the World Championship of Public Speaking have learned how to walk through their fear and into their confidence. It doesn’t mean that the fear is gone, it means that they have learned how to harness that energy and have faith in their voice. In the uniqueness and importance of their voice. And that’s what we do at Head Start Public Speaking For Kids. The new goal is to help as many kids as possible do just that! Join us this fall!