I was 18 when I had a silly bet with my buddy, Andrew. On our way to the school library, there were two paths. We had to choose either passing through the school buildings or using the main road. I told my friend: “Walking inside is faster than walking outside”. He argued: “No, walking outside is faster”. Then I said: “Ok, let’s bet.” “1,2, Go”. I started walking slowly as if I couldn’t care less. The moment I was out of his sight, I instantly ran very fast. While sprinting, I even tried to catch a glimpse of him, to make sure I was ahead of him. All I wanted was to win. I pushed my limit to run even faster. When I reached there, he was nowhere in sight, “Yes! I won”. I was panting so hard. But the moment I saw him, I stood up straight and grinned at him pretending as if I just had a stroll in the park. He then asked, “Did you have a shower too?”. Both of us were laughing at each other and felt so silly after that.
That’s the competitive me. I have always enjoyed the thrill of winning competitions, even in such a trivial bet, because I can outsmart and outlast.
Good evening contest chair, fellow toastmasters, and friends. Can I have a show of hands, how many of you are competitive like me? Would you agree that having the competitive edge helps us to truly grow and improve? That’s the essence of life that can elevate us to a greater sense of, fulfilment, satisfaction, and achievement.
Fueled by the constant urge to challenge myself out of comfort zone, I pursued a marketing contest named Henkel Innovation Challenge in my university days. I successfully brainwashed my buddy, Andrew to join in together. Two boring engineering students with zero marketing knowledge had to come out with an innovative product in 2050.
After intensive discussion with our best friend Google, we decided on creating an incredible hair care product that could wash your hair without water in just 1 minute. Would anyone of you dream of this product? The judges loved this concept too. We were on top of the world when we were selected as the finalist to compete in the Southeast Asia Final. However, that’s the beginning of our nightmare.
A marketing manager, Mr Louis was assigned to mentor us. After weeks of squeezing our brain and heart out, we presented our precious draft to him. He immediately said “Well done in … hypnotizing me” “Your presentation is outright boring”. Needless to say, our confidence to win was smashed into pieces. He then enlightened us by giving us some pointers. I still remembered he said to us: “I see something in you. All the best”.
Hating to lose, we told ourselves to push our limit and give it all to save our faces. We consulted everyone and anyone in the marketing faculty and finally came out with creative marketing strategies. We desperately asked help from Toastmasters’ friends to improve our delivery. At the same time, we had to juggle with stressful final year thesis. We were like hiding in a cave focusing on the preparation, there was no day and night for us. At times, two of us would even quarrel to have our own ways to do things. But we knew we needed to pull less, bend more because united we win, divided we lose. When we finally emerged from the cave, we both were having long beard and messy smelly hair as if we came back from the stone age! We were ready.
On the day of the contest, we presented with our best enthusiasm and energy. And that was the day I would never forget. Can anyone guess the result? Yes! We Won. We were crowned the champion! Our reward was a pair of tickets to Germany for the international final. Even though we didn’t win the world championship, I would treasure the experience forever.
My friends, that contest has been a turning point in my life. The determination to win has transformed me into someone who will fight till the very end despite multiple failures. I realise that, to be a champion is not about defeating the others, it is about pushing beyond our own limits and bringing out the best in us. My personal quote from Muhammad Ali is, Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, and a vision. We have to be competitive to feed our hunger to grow in life, if we are not growing, we are dying.
How about you? Have you ever achieved great things because you pushed yourselves to your limit?
As a Toastmaster, would you agree that striving to win this ribbon has always pushed our limit and unleashed our potential? This best speaker ribbon is my testament to continue mastering the art of public speaking. Since we all aspire to be an excellent speaker, we should keep challenging ourselves to maximize our potential and reach greater heights.
My friends, be competitive in your life, that’s how you can push yourselves to your limit. Don’t be a mediocre, be the champion of our life. Just like this song sounds,
We are the champions,
We are the champions.
No time for losers
Cause we are the champions of our life.
Back to you contest chair
Above is my script for Toatmasters International Speech Contest – Club level. I didn’t do well, I know I could have done better by practicing more and preparing earlier. All the best to my next attempt which could be two years later. Never Give Up, Live like a Champion. – 26th March 2018