Today I happened to come across this speech that I originally wrote in either 2003 or 2004. To be honest it was one of the best speeches I did at Toastmasters - and I can probably safely say that it was probably the one I put most effort into. I thought I would share it here, because as of late, this blog has just become a list of stuff I have been up to, not particularly interesting or profound stuff - but then if I was any more honest, I would probably be spilling out my broken heart to you all, and that probably isn't great reading either.
I'm not sure where I fit on the scale at the moment - as I think I have been pretty good in recent years just doing it, possibly to the detrement of my career and moving forward. Anyway, may be this will inspire someone.
Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.
Good evening fellow toastmasters, contest chair, judges, and distinguished guests.
TIME - Too often we take it for granted, we will do something tommorrow, we will get around to it at some stage, or “One day it will happen”.
Something you probably don’t know about me is that – I grew up in a place called Naike - a small rural community out west of Huntly in the mighty Waikato.
At high school, when asked where Naike was, my friend & I would jokingly reply “next to Reebok”. However it is spelt different from the shoe brand. Despite this minor detail, I like the shoe brand’s slogan “JUST DO IT”, and tonight this is what my speech will be about.
Several years ago now there was a CanTeen ad on TV that ends with the point that the one thing worst than getting old is not getting old?
Unfortunately it is a sad fact. We won’t all live to be 70 or 80. We may die tomorrow, or 2 years from now, or when we are 45. This fact hit me the hardest 8 years ago, when one of my childhood friends died in an avalanche, a month before he was going to turn 19. It simply hurts to think that he didn’t even get to celebrate his 21st, he will never get married, he won’t have children, and he won’t get to develop a successful career – because he is dead. What I can take comfort in is that he lived a 19 years to the full – he didn’t hold himself back, he gave everything a go, adventure was his middle name – Unfortunately his sense of adventure on this occasion lead to the mistake of getting caught in an avalanche while snowboarding – but at least he died doing something he enjoyed.
Something I had been guilty of was putting my life on hold. I had lived by the theory that when I finished high school things would be so much cooler – and I would have heaps of free time to do all the things that I had put off.
Then I discovered that Tertiary education was actually quite full-on, and that I didn’t “have the time” – but no worries I thought, when I get a job I will have heaps of free time and also an income to use.
Fate of course drew me another cruel blow, and 5 months after Graduating I found myself back at tech, on top of working a full time job. My mistake was not making time. What if it was me that had died? I spent a good 10 years of my life pretty much not enjoying it, and possibly not achieving much more than an education.
Think about this. And remember that Time waits for no one. You should treasure every moment you have.
So what is there to gain? As much as it is a cliché – it is true NO REGRETS.
There must be nothing worst than looking back on life, and realising how little you have achieved, or how little you have done. On the other hand, think of the contentment you would feel knowing you had done your best, achieved your goals, and made your mark – and enjoyed it. Old age is a time when you should be living on the fruits of your youthful successes, and not getting bitter and twisted because of your regrets.
Similarly, if you still have things left undone, there is no time like the present. I like the saying “it ain’t over till it’s over.” - Don’t let age, or any other barrier hold you back. Remember also that if there is something fun, do it today rather than leaving it until tommorrow – because if you like it today you can do it again tomorrow.
I was listening to a tape not long ago, and there was a 68-year-old lady who decided to do a degree at University. Her friends told her that she was silly, because it would take three years, and she would be at least 70 before she would finish it. Her reply was “well in three years I’ll be 70 anyway…”
Don’t you love that attitude? She lived and did, rather than just existed for those 3 years.
Like the Nike saying “Just do it”. Don’t let fear get in your way. A lot of lives are limited because of fears.
Fears of failure. Fears of rejection. Fears of enclosed spaces, spiders, or heights.
Some people choose to live within their boundaries, whereas others climb over them. A good portion of us here may’ve started coming to toastmasters because we had a fear of public speaking.
If so, congratulations, you have taken the first step of jumping out of your comfort zone.
Fears are enemies to your life. They are preventing you from being what you could be – and from what you could give the world.
Lets face it, you may not always be successful, you may not achieve as much as Edmund Hillary, but in the end you are only competing with yourself.
Tonight’s Thomasism is “If you’re going down – go down with both guns blazing”. Basically what I mean by that is, that you may be struggling, but give it everything until you hit the ground, and that way you may succeed, but giving up means definitely failing.
So, Congratulations everyone – by being here you are one step closer to bettering your life
To finish tonight’s speech, I want you to go away with this:
Life is not defined by how many moments you live, rather the moments that take your breath away. You may not get as many moments as you think you will, so make them count.