I joined a local Toastmasters club earlier this spring to pursue one of my goals to become a motivational speaker. The chapter I belong to meets weekly every Monday with the exception of holidays. This was one of the best decisions I made not only to accomplish my goal, but for also my personal development. I have so much fun at our meetings learning how to improve my public speaking skills and interacting with my fellow Toastmasters.
This week, I gave my third Toastmasters speech as part of my Competent Communication manual. The manual consists of ten different projects where the speaker needs to complete ten different speeches that have a specific objective. There’s a part of me that’s not yet comfortable having my speeches videotaped, but I wish I did last Monday. I received so much positive feedback and constructive criticism about my third speech. The following is a revised version of my speech I wrote this morning. Perhaps one day I’ll record myself reciting this speech. That definitely sounds like a plan. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me because all feedback is welcomed. Enjoy.
The Best That Could Happen
Good Evening, Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and honored guests. I’d like to begin tonight’s speech with a little mental exercise: imagine yourself about to make a life changing decision, something that will require you to step outside of our comfort zone, making sacrifices that you don’t want to do. Do you have that image inside your mind? Good. For some individuals, they’re excited, confident, and ready to do what’s necessary to achieve that goal; for others, they’re intimidated, afraid, and hesitant to initiate change. I can’t speak for anyone else, but there were some moments in my life where I fell into that latter category whether it was changing jobs, pursuing a personal relationship, or taking advantage of a business opportunity that could’ve changed my life for the better. I thought of every negative excuse to talk myself out of taking action, always anticipating the worst that could happen. Tonight, I’ll be discussing how people can change their mindset by no longer anticipating the worst that could happen; instead, anticipating the best that could happen.
Not too long ago, I was employed as a wellness counselor where I facilitated group counseling sessions to adults enrolled in a partial care program. One of my favorite groups that I loved to teach was Positive Psychology. For those who are unfamiliar with this subject, it’s a theoretical orientation that helps people focus on using optimism and happiness to manage their mental health issues. One positive psychology coping skill I used and found effective not only with my clients, but also for myself was positive self-talk. Whenever negative thoughts entered my mind as I contemplated doing something I’ve never done before, I immediately challenged them with several positive thoughts. For example, a typical conversation inside my mind would go something like this:
Negative Self-Talk: I want to become a motivational speaker, but I don’t know if I have what it takes to be successful.
Positive Self-Talk: That’s an awesome idea! You’re a talented writer and you’ve got an excellent speaking voice.
Negative Self-Talk: There are thousands of individuals who are already earning a living doing so.
Positive Self-Talk: Yes, there are thousands of individuals already earning a living in this profession, but none of them have traveled your journey, lived your life, or could tell your personal story.
Negative Self-Talk: What if I fail in this endeavor?
Positive Self-Talk: What if you succeed in this endeavor? Imagine how much your life would change for the better.
Negative Self-Talk: But suppose…
Positive Self-Talk: STOP!!!
Sometimes it was necessary for me to shut down the negative self-talk before things got out of hand. Repeated use of positive self-talk enhanced my self-confidence and minimized the negativity.
Another coping skill I also employed to anticipate the best that could happen was visualization. Some athletes use this technique to empower themselves before engaging in physical activity to increase their performance. I often use visualization when I’m exercising with free weights. Sometimes I listen to inspirational music to give myself an extra boost of adrenaline. One of my favorite songs is “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from the Rocky movie. I imagine myself successfully completing my exercise routine just like Rocky Balboa running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum 40 years ago. Visualization, like positive self-talk, has also been very powerful for me, increasing my hope to achieve my goal.
Anticipating the best that could happen can be an excellent motivator for anyone to take risks to pursue new opportunities. I’d like to conclude this speech with the same mental exercise where you imagined yourself making a life-changing decision to step outside of your comfort zone. As you’re sitting there recalling that image, what are some thoughts crossing your mind? Are they negative? If so, I challenge you to start thinking positive thoughts to increase your optimism. Can you visualize yourself successfully achieving your goal? If not, do so. See yourself transforming your life for the better with positive self-talk and visualization. Thank you, Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and honored guests.