Today I finally went somewhere I’ve been trying to push myself to go to for a while: Toastmasters.What? Toastmasters is a forum gathered to practice public speaking. Why? As a sales person, the amount of interaction I have to do on a daily basis is significant. Whether it is on a one on one basis or in front of a public audience, it’s a skill worth honing. Who?When?Where? These three W’s are unimportant. So we skip.
Now if you’ve never been, you’ll find that the class is very structured in specific ways. People are assigned roles such as UM counter, (who counts how many times people say UM,) time keeper (who runs a mini street light and flashes the green, yellow, or red light based off how much time you have left.) and about 6 more jobs along with a rigid schedule and timeline. The first two speeches presented were prepared in advance and the second two are made up on the spot. Everyone does a very good job and awards are given to the best speeches of each classification. Additionally, there is an overall theme that these speeches must cover and the theme for the day was Superheroes. There are so many ways to approach this topic but what I found most interesting is that coincidentally, all presenters of the day, were women. Even MORE interesting, all the women presenting had a common superhero, wonder woman. Honestly, before today, I always thought of Wonder Woman as the bottom of the totem pole of superheroes, just barely above Robin and Krillin and that’s not saying much. A little research proves to myself that I am ignorant. Wonder Woman is the princess of the amazons. One of Earth’s most powerful defenders of peace and daughter of Zeus and Amazon queen Hippolyta. Mind. Blown.
However, aside from the fact that I found out she is pretty awesome, I realized that girls don’t really have many model feminine superheros to look up to. Though Wonder Woman has got a wondrous back story, girls would essentially have to choose her as their favorite female superhero by default. Remember Jubilee? Good grief, nobody took that girl seriously because come on, I can just buy myself a 50 pack of sparklers on 4th of july for $5.00 and have Jubilee’s powers too. For $10.00 I could be twice as strong as her. Quit the X-Men girl and go get a job at Disneyland shooting up fireworks after World of Color ends. But the silver lining is that in X-Men Apocalypse, she will be portrayed by an up and coming Asian actor.
At the end of the class, something else happened. I was given an award and got my picture taken with the toastmaster. He seemed a little reserved about giving it to me as he said “It’s just tradition.” I was a ball of mixed emotions, surprised and yet somewhat excited. This award, essentially with no value, was the equivalent of a child’s participation award. You’re not first, you’re not second, you’re not even third, you’re a participant! CONGRATULATIONS! Why is it that we get excited about rewards even when they have no inherent value? Why has our society become so soft that we feel that every child needs to get an award. Aren’t we a society that believes that competition fosters motivation and promotes greater overall growth? If all of our children are getting rewarded for standing around and picking their nose, are they going to do anything more than just that? Well they might eat it, but I mean in the productive sense.
So in the spirit of competition, I want to share a mindset concept with you. Playing to win versus Playing not to lose. When you are playing not to lose, your focus is not on what you can gain but on maintaining what you already have. When you are playing to win, you are focused on creating new opportunities and going after what you want. The paradox of playing not to lose is specifically not making mistakes which leads to more losing. The flip is when you’re playing to win, continuous risk taking leads to more victories. You’ll have some failures but you’ll have greater victories. Here is an example. In soccer, when the timer runs out and the score is a tie, they go to a penalty shoot out where each kicker goes one on one with the goalie and the best of 5 wins. The rate of success is pretty high and on average, Penalty kicks are successful 85% of the time. Now, Let’s use the scenario where a team is down 2-4 so if this kicker makes it, they will still be in the running, but if he misses, they lose. Hence, he is playing not to lose. What percentage of these shots do you believe are made? an insignificant 62%! However, on the flip side, if a team was leading with a score of 4-2 and the game is over if the kicker makes the shot, what percentage of the time do these players make their kick? Playing to win. 92%!!!! They are all making the same kick from the same distance, but with one key difference which creates a wild result: mindset. Always play to win.