Failure as Learning

As part of my new career path I want to do public speaking. I have done a small amount of presentations in my corporate past and one talk at a festival last year. But it’s clear to me that I need to build public speaking as a skill in my repertoire if I want to make it part of my work.

I’ve joined a Toastmasters club near my house. I visited a few times and explored a few other clubs before I settled on the one that seemed to fit the best. We have a diverse nation and I’d really like to know how my message is received by a variety of age groups and ethnic groups. So I joined the most diverse group I could find and it has a really young and fun vibe about it.

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For the first few visits I was too afraid to volunteer for the impromptu talks. But I’ve gained some courage and I was prepared to give it a go. I’ve done it twice now. The first time I did pretty well and won the impromptu talk category for the evening. The next time, however, didn’t go that well. I didn’t volunteer and hadn’t mentally prepared myself. And they called on me without any warning. I failed dismally.

Usually I would berate myself and feel humiliated and not want to return. Or find someone to blame for it. But a few factors changed that dynamic. Firstly, the club is very supportive and forgiving. Secondly, I know that I’m learning. I know that I will fail a lot until I get it right. That’s why I’m there: to build a skill that I’m not yet proficient at.

I’ve spent a lot of time on personal growth in the past eighteen months. I have experimented with a variety of ways to learn about myself, what I need, what I belief in and where I’m going. I have read many books on topics such as happiness, resilience, creativity, spirituality, vulnerability, flow and talent. But reading a book is not the same as actually doing something. It’s comparable to the difference between a teenager researching how to have sex and actually doing it.

So I failed and it’s the kind of place where you can fail. But I am really enjoying the journey of improving at something that needs a lot of work. It’s hard but it’s an important part of my future career. So I need to master it as much as I can. And I will apply myself with my usual deliberate focus.

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When we fail, it can teach us a lot. Reading and gaining knowledge is always something I’ll enjoy but when it comes to a new skill, I know that execution is key. I need to take the lessons from every failure and work on them until my skill is polished. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. Much like how that teenager feels.

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Kathy
I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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