Dear fellow Toastmasters and Guests,
When I gave my first speech, 'The Ice Breaker', I had intentionally added the answer to the question, 'Why did I join Toastmasters?' in that. I joined Toastmasters because I want to be myself on the stage. I didn't want to be affected by my nervousness or external factors like the size of the audience, etc. I knew that I would be more conversational and engaging as a speaker, if I could somehow be myself on stage. But just after 4 speeches and umpteen number of roles and responsibilities at Toastmasters International, if you ask me the same question again, my answer would be different.
Now, I would answer that I joined Toastmasters because I want to inspire people. I want my audience to get something valuable out of my speeches, something they can take back and use in their own lives. Do you see the difference? Now that I think of it, I realise that before, it was all about 'me' - I want to be better, I want to be confident on stage etc. Now, it's all about 'others' - inspiring others. This is an amazing transformation that Toastmasters has brought about in me. I am really happy that I could share that with you today.
The title of my speech says, 3 Words of Wisdom. That's exactly what I'm going to give you today and then I'm going to walk away! Just kidding :)
The 3 words are: Explore, Own, and Payback. Let me start with a question - How many of us know ourselves really well? Not just superficially, but really well? What are your strengths, your weaknesses, your values, what are you good at, etc.? How many of us truly ask for feedback from others?
Exploring yourself is the first step to success. There are 2 ways to explore yourself - Introspection and getting feedback from others. I feel I am a very happy and easy-going person, but do others think about me the same way? Or do they have a totally different perception about me? That is why honest feedback is very important. Once you do a self-exploration and understand what you want to do in your life, you are ready to make your choices. For example, almost 3 years ago, I quit my job and went to do an MBA. Boy, did I get a lot of flak for that! I had been married for almost 2 years then and the society was expecting me to settle down and have kids. Leaving my husband in Kerala and going to the other end of the country in Uttar Pradesh, to do a residential MBA was a big step. But once I knew what I wanted to do in life, I had to make that choice.
Even after I got into a B-School, a lot of people gave me those puzzled looks when they got to know that I was married. I knew what those looks meant - you left your husband in Kerala and came here to study for 2 years? One of my friends even told me that if I were married, I wouldn't have let my wife do this. Why get married if you're living separately? Which brings me to my second point, Own. This was my choice, not letting his wife do higher studies was my friend's. Own up to your decisions an be strong. You don't have to compare apples and oranges. Know that you've made this choice for a reason; so take responsibility for it. One of my colleagues tells me, I am struggling here with my baby, with no support from my family while my friend, who is just as good as me, is moving out of the country to a different role. It doesn't matter! This was your choice and that was his - both of your priorities differ. Be yourself and take responsibility for your happiness.
Then comes my third point - Payback. As Melinda Gates, the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Foundation points out, 'If you're successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or gave you an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also, that you are indebted to life until you help some unfortunate person, just as you were helped.' Giving back to the society is not supposed to happen when you are 50 and have nothing else to do. It has to happen everyday of your life. That is what will make you happy.
So here goes my 3 Words of Wisdom - Explore, Own and Payback. Once you follow this, I am sure you will have an enriching and happy life.
PS: I am indebted to one of my colleagues for explaining the Explore, Own and Payback model during one of her speeches in office. It broadened my thinking and helped me come up with this inspiring speech