My participation at the toastmasters speech contest: compete, and get past your fear!


I just competed in the toastmasters evaluation, and humorous speech contests in Fort-Lauderdale this Saturday morning. I feel a sense of accomplishment to have been on the podium, making new friends, facing my fear, and understanding I could have been better.


This is my third participation at a speech contest. There’s a feeling I like at the beginning, and at the end of the process that I’d like to share with you.


It starts at the club level. My mentor DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) Kip Barkley proposed me to represent our club. Club VOICE. (www.clubvoice.org). I accepted and started with ideas about a speech from nothing.

I built it up from a couple of ideas and from other club member’s ideas. I made a speech which had at the moment feedback. I repeated two times at a mock contest in our club.


The more time is approaching, the deeper is that inside feeling goes. I can’t describe it. You have to be on the arena, as Truman said, to know it. 

This is that feeling you have a couple of seconds before the contest master calls your name, and the title of your speech. Your adrenaline pumps up. You’re by yourself on the podium with hundred of eyes peering on you.

But, the environment is supportive. Every body is wishing you well, and at the end they all tell you you did a good job. 

I wrote and rewrote several versions of my speech. I end up with this conclusion that an speaker pointed out. There are always three speeches in your speech: First, the one you prepare; second, the one you deliver; third, the one you wish you had delivered. You will carry the latter longer with you.

I came in third position and my mentor Kip Barkley shared his feedback with me passing me his notes and things I can do better.

I congratulate the winners. And I appreciate that I had an opportunity to compete and to be part of a community of winners looking to the best they can be.

Roosevelt

You will doubt yourself. But keep going anyway, Success is not that far away.


Some days you wake up, and you doubt yourself. You see clouds.  You are tempted to quit. You’re human. It’s natural. Normal. But, pursuing excellence is not normal. Achieving success is not natural.

The ones who have the gold at the Olympic Games prove us that success is not normal. 

I was having a conversation with a friend last night who told me a story of a singer who had throat cancer. She was tempting to quit singing. She doubted herself  with the pain, the arduous treatment she went through. But she kept on asking herself: “quitting to what!”

New York Times bestselling author Chris Brady, in his book PAiLS, told us a story of “a young boy who was bullied out of his lunch money each day. To defend himself, he enrolled in a karate class. At the end of the first week of lessons, the instructor charged him fifteen dollars for his services. The boy promptly quit karate and decided it was easier to just keep paying the bully than to pay to learn how to fight him.”

This is human to look for the easy way out. But, success has a price. What do you want? What does it cost? Will you pay it?

These are critical questions to help you live a life of purpose.

We are living in an age of purposelessness. This is also human to settle for less and develop careless habits that lead to mediocrity.

But, if we want to achieve excellence, we need to come to respect ourselves and fight through the doubts.

You will doubt yourself and just everything else. But keep going anyway and live the life you’ve always wanted.

Develop the stamina and the right mental attitude by reading good biographies and autobiographies, associating with like minded winners through conversations and audio learning.

Keep doing what you desire. Learn, grow, and better yourself with soft skills long enough, you will be a champion. 

God bless,

Roosevelt

Confucius philosophical leadership learning: The Great Learning!


What the Great Learning teaches is: to illustrate illustrious virtue; to renovate the people; and to rest in the highest excellence.

The point where to rest being known, the object of pursuit is then determined; and, that being determined, an unperturbed calmness may be attained to.

tglTo that calmness there will succeed a tranquil repose. In that repose there may be careful deliberation, and that deliberation will be followed by the attainment of the desired end.

Things have their root and their branches. Affairs have their end and their beginning. To know what is first and what is last will lead near to what is taught in the Great Learning.

The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the world, first ordered well their own States.

Wishing to order well their States, they first regulated their families.

Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons.

Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts.

Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts.

Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost of their knowledge.

Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.

Things being investigated, knowledge became complete.

Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere.

Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified.

Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated.

Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated.

Their families being regulated, their States were rightly governed.

Their States being rightly governed, the entire world was at peace.

From the Son of Heaven down to the mass of the people, all must consider the cultivation of the person the root of everything besides.

It cannot be, when the root is neglected, that what should spring from it will be well ordered.

It never has been the case that what was of great importance has been slightly cared for, and, at the same time, that what was of slight importance has been greatly cared for.

Confucius, The Great Learning.

Hell: ‘Whatever you fear most…’ an oustanding Edwidge Danticat’s folk story!


I am reading Edwige Danticat. Her recent memoir “Brother, I’m dying” is amazing. She tells her family story in poignant way. She combines her story with the story of her dad, her uncle, her countries, her travels, her neighborhood, her grandmas.to free herself, and to free us as well to tell our own story, and to live the life we want.

She used the power of words to include  folktales, stories that she heard from her parents to make good learning lessons from life.

“Hell” is one of those stories told by Danticat’s Granmè Melina.

12501577_114057308995588_315286960_n(1)Here is the story. Enjoy… And share with friends, fans, and family.

A man, one day fell asleep and woke up in a foreign land where he knew no one and no one knew him. Finding himself on his back in the middle of a dirt road, filled with strangers, he looked up at the blurry faces around him, which were framed by a gloomy gray sky, and asked, “Where am I?”

“You’re where you are,” answered a booming voice.

“Where’s that?” he asked.

“Where you need to be,” replied the voice.

“I din’t ask to be here,” the man said, “wherever it is.”

“No matter how you ended up here,” said the voice, “here you are.”

Tired about the roundabout conversation, the man said, “I want you to tell me right now where I am. If you don’t, I’m going to be angry.”

“Who cares about your anger?” answered the voice. “No one is scared of you here.”

Truly upset now, the man said, “Tell me where I am right now!”

“You are in Hell,” replied the voice.

And since these were long time ago, the man didn’t know what hell was, even though he could already see that it was not a happy place.

“What is hell?” he asked.

“Hell”, replied the voice, “is whatever you fear most.”


A story told by Edwige Dandicat in “Brother, I’m dying.” Thanks again Edwige to share with us the power of words and storytelling.

Roosevelt Jean-Francois

Fulbright Scholar, Connector, Speaker

 

 

 

Remember your story, carry your story, and tell your story!


“I hope that you will always remember your story, and that you will carry your story with you as proudly as I carry mine.” First Lady Michele Obama told a graduating class of 100 students, giving the commencement address to Santa Fe Indian School.

Mrs Obama

She personalized the history of the African American experience, and shared her family’s roots in 19th century American chattel slavery. Her remarks seemed geared toward moving beyond a sense of connection between her and the audience, which was already palpable in the hall, to something deeper, something more akin to identification.

I am the great-great-granddaughter of Jim Robinson, who was born in South Carolina, lived as a slave and is likely buried in an unmarked grave on the plantation where he worked.

I am the great-granddaughter of Fraser Robinson, an illiterate houseboy who taught himself to read and became an entrepreneur—selling newspapers and shoes.

She spoke of values, claiming the shared values of respect, perseverance and integrity, three of the ten core values of the Santa Fe Indian School. She remarked on the hopeful, positive trajectory of the school and the accomplishments of its students.

Our story is about who we are. When we talk about our experiences, what we see, feel, do, fear, like with our own words, we create our own life.

Don’t try to be the next so and so. Be the first you. Remember your story, carry your story, and tell your story.

Your story makes you you.

Roosevelt

 

 

 

 

Bill Gates & Warren Buffet: 25 years of friendship, learning and laughing through stories and building memories!


I enjoyed reading Bill Gates’s recent notes published online to mark the anniversary of his 25th friendship anniversary with Warren Buffet.

Bill Gates said this friendship has changed his life for the better in every imaginable way.

He has learned to learn more and laugh more by telling stories and building memories.

Bill met Warren on July 5, 1991 through his parent’s connections. Warren started the conversation by asking questions.

“These were amazingly good questions that nobody had ever asked,” Bill said describing Warren as “modest” and “funny.”

It was a deep friendship from this very first conversation.

Warren nurtures friendship. This is the most important thing Gates has learned from Buffet over the last 25 years. He’s gifted at investing in people. He makes it fun for them to learn from him.

“Everyone should be lucky enough to have a friend who is as thoughtful and kind as Warren. He goes out of his way to make people feel good about themselves and share his joy about life,” Gates noted.

This was originally published at gatesnotes.com


Roosevelt Jean-Francois is a connector. He blogs, speaks, and coaches on leadership, success, business, economy, personal and organizational development.