Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)
TITLE: A Big Dream
By Joy Bach
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In 1992, I had a conversation with a friend, Don. After hearing about a big dream I believed God had given me about reaching women who had been wounded by life, as I had, he invited me to Toastmasters. I asked what Toastmasters was. When I heard that a group of people sat around and listened as members took turns speaking ……..and then someone would evaluate that speech in front of everyone……..I knew I could NEVER go there.
Over the next SIX years, I allowed myself to occasionally consider Don’s suggestion. I stood at a fork in the road. On one side was my “Comfort Zone” and on the other was my “Big Dream”. When my palms grew sweaty and my breath came in gulps, I thought about something else. NO WAY COULD I GET UP IN FRONT OF PEOPLE…….. AND THEN OPEN MY MOUTH AND HAVE WORDS COME OUT!!! I chose comfort.
But God would not let me go. I began to understand it was time to leave this “Comfort Zone”!
One Thursday in April, 1998, I drove cautiously by the Toastmaster’s meeting place. No harm came to me. But what would happen when I attended the meeting there the next morning?
I quietly gathered my clothes and crept from the bedroom at 5:00 a.m. Tears filled my eyes as I headed out through the dark in my car. But friendly people greeted me. I searched for Don. He was not there. I knew I would have to hurt him. Didn’t he know this was the morning I would show up after SIX years!!!
I joined the club. May, 1998, I was scheduled to give my ice breaker. Days before, I began to feel ill. My intestinal tract was rebelling. There was no sleep for me that Thursday night. I cried as I dressed. I cried as I drove. I argued with myself. “Why are you doing this? Are you crazy?”
But I kept going. My “Big Dream” was calling.
I did it. I spoke five minutes in front of people and words actually came out of my mouth.
It took six speeches for my terror to lessen. I no longer cried and ran to the bathroom. My heart just pounded out of my chest and my face turned beet red. NO PROBLEM! I was improving.
In July of 1999, I began working on the Storytelling Manual……and discovered that was my style of speaking. I could tell stories!
By January, 2000 my heart was better and the redness in my face no longer competed with Rudolph.
Then came that Saturday when I competed in the Division Contest. About a minute into the speech, I opened my mouth and nothing came out. And nothing came out. And nothing came out. I know exactly how long nothing came out, because another Toastmaster was there with a tape recorder. He later timed the silence.
Do you have any idea how long one minute and 14 seconds are when you are standing in front of a group of people and they are expecting YOU to say something?
I faced my greatest fear and did not run crying from the room. I completed the speech. And I was still alive!
Over the next three years I calmed down enough to notice that there were actually people in front of me, listening. I was getting the hang of it.
I stepped way out of my “Comfort Zone” by conducting a “Success and Leadership” module at our Advanced Toastmaster Club. For 63 minutes, I stood in front of the room with words coming out of my mouth.
I’m sure it was not a momentous night for the attendees. But I could not go to sleep that night. I kept saying to my husband, “I did it”.
Each level of achievement brings me one step closer to my “Big Dream”.
Great opportunities await you…….and me…..if we are willing to take the risks. We need to DREAM BIG, using God’s imagination. Another “BIG DREAM” is out there waiting for us.
If we don’t pursue it, something important won’t happen.
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