In August I was blessed to be named only the the 84th Accredited Speaker by Toastmasters International.
I will be honest and say I spent a few days just enjoying the feeling of success. After that, however, I started my self-reflective process. What did I learn from this and what did this special and rare designation mean?
When I joined Toastmasters nine years ago I walked into a room because I had a story to tell about overcoming disability and achieving my dream of playing college football. I had no idea how to tell it. Since then I have consistently worked at making that speech the best it can be and demand more of myself every time I give it. Hit Hard: 3 Must-Have Mindsets to Breakthrough Challenges is my #1 motivational talk but it is so much more.
That’s where my mind went as I reflected until I came up with one word that encapsulated the entire experience: Validation.
Validation for the countless hours I put into designing the speech. The successes of course, but also the failures. The stories I cut. The jokes that bombed. The content that changed as the years went on because it needed it.
Validation for the variety in venues and audiences I shared the story with. T]Before I spoke on large stages and to large groups I began humbly in leaky fraternity basements on a Sunday morning after a party, civic organizations with 4 members present (that included the waitress at the diner who interrupted my talk to ask if I wanted more decaf), and once I even spoke to a group who gifted me a bag of peanuts as a thank you. But you know what? They were the best damn peanuts I ever tasted.
Validation for pushing through when I was heckled or told to not pursue this dream.
Validation for the wonderful supervisors and workplaces who allowed me to develop my passion by giving me freedom and the sometimes even the platform to do it.
Validation for all the workplaces and supervisors who did not support it, told me not to mention my speaking career at work but on occasion would ask me to “donate” a speech for the cause. I didn’t.
Validation for the times I’d walk off stage feeling like I had stunk the room up (and sometimes I totally did and that’s ok. It’s part of the process) only to have an attendee find me and tell me that my story inspired them to push harder, follow a dream, and in some cases simply get up and keep living life.
Validation for my wife Sherri. When I was at my lowest point I asked her why she supported me and why I should go on. Her answer: “I love you and your dreams.”
That’s all I’ve needed ever since to keep pushing forward.
What do you need to keep pushing forward? What process/journey are you trying to validate? I never set out to become an Accredited Speaker because of a swanky plaque or a special designation. I figured all of that was the byproduct and validation of my process and commitment to my dream.
My name is Paul Artale. I help people and organizations breakthrough challenges so that they can create perform at their peak and live fulfilling lives.
I would love to help you next. Let’s talk 🙂
For more about me visit www.paulartale.com
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