[This post was taken from President Laurence's facebook's note, dated: 25 Oct 2014]
I met a friend at a local supermarket the other day. She was home for a holiday as she is working in a metropolitan city right after her graduation. After a few exchanges of long-time-no-see-how-are-you greetings, she introduced me to her parent as the president of Sandakan Toastmasters Club, English version. I smiled and greeted her,"Auntie." It is about our culture that elder strangers are our aunts and uncles when we greet them. Since she introduced me that way and knowing that she is working in a big corporate company in a city, I simply asked her to join us for our meeting later that week. She turned her head abruptly towards me, looked hard into my eyes that I felt she seem to be scanning my brain cells for she couldn't believe what she has heard. With a deep, surprised tone, replied "What for? To go on stage and speak for 5 minutes?"
I guess that's the base for the saying that goes, "Public speaking is the number one fear than death." I know understand why. I rather die than living in shame and humiliation for making myself a fool on stage! People will remember me for that and will keep on talking about it!
Who is making you a fool? Yourself or Others?
Who says that you are a fool? Yourself or Others?
Who thinks that you are making a fool of yourself? Yourself or Others?
In a culture where what matters most are the money you make and the skin you wear, positivism towards other is rare and criticism comes first before (if any) compliment. There are positive people (undeniably the most beautiful people too), but they are rare. When I find them, I'm truly grateful.
As shared by Kimberly Ang of Class 5D in her presentation about the cultural and belief ideology of the community in the novel "The Curse", she stated, "We are not born WITH the culture, we are born INTO the culture." Her presentation left me with a deep impression. She has made me understand better of the rebel in me, against the culture I am in. Against the culture of negativity and of mediocrity. Against the culture of complaining without doing, and assuming without judgment. Against the culture of "what qualifications you have" and "what money you make" and "what race you are".
I was born into this culture. But whether or not I become one, that is my decision to make.
One thing that Toastmasters have changed me most:
1. Of being who I am. Better.
Two things that Toastmasters have shaped me most:
1. I am not what I appear to be, but what I am made to be.
2. I am not what I thought I am, but what I believe I am.
Three things that Toastmasters have equipped me most:
1. The confidence to speak- with tactfulness and compassion
2. The empathy towards others- the success of one is the success of all, the weakness of one, is the club's empowerment for him/ her
3. To humbly ask for criticism and to bravely accept them
Four things that Toastmasters have provided me most:
1. Great people!- they are magnificent people with extraordinary talents and auras. Most of all, they are fun to be with! Not just for the pleasure of sharing with them, but the learning I gained. It's boundless.
2. A safe, condusive place to make mistakes without the fear of jumping off a cliff after that
3. Going places! Being a Toastmaster in Sandakan, has made me a Toastmaster in any Toastmasters Club around the globe!
4. Acknowledgement- in any achievement or contribution made
Above all, Toastmasters has instilled in me its four values:
Regardless of any belief system that we hold strong to, they are only strongly uphold through one's thoughts, words and actions.
Well, why I invite you to Toastmasters, my friend? Because I see something in you, but both of us wouldn't know what it is- until you take the first courageous step in accepting my invitation. And as a guest, should you do the unthinkable by standing up (no stage unfortunately) to speak for five minutes during the meeting- hell, you're something! But, our timer will let you speak for only 3 minutes max before he clicks on the bright red light.
So, are you born WITH the culture that you are in, or INTO the culture?