Find the Joy

I delivered two 40-minute talks in the last two days. I also competed in my Toastmasters club contest on Thursday. It has been quite tough for me to practice and remember everything for all three speeches within a few days. I tried hard to balance the tailored audience message and to reuse material from a speech I did last year. It was very difficult not to get the two big talks confused. In the end I made them identical to ease the burden on me.


Monday’s talk was okay but not spectacular. I was tired and stressed and worried about my health. I was letting the worry drain my reserves and I didn’t relish the delivery of the speech as I experienced last year. What was wrong, I wondered? Why am I not having fun? It was a small audience and yet I was so nervous. I felt that I didn’t want to talk about my illness and suffering so much anymore. It was bringing me down.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling glum that I’d have to spend the day practicing the same old speech. So I did something crazy and impulsive. I changed it. Yes, I changed a 40-minute speech on the day! In the past I would never have taken such a risk, but my intuition was telling me to find the joy. The whole point of building this new life is to make it happy, and to have enjoyment in my work. I wasn’t going to let it become a grind.

I pieced together bits from last year’s speech, some snippets from recent Toastmasters speeches and the one I delivered on Monday. I deleted some slides, imported others and left some alone. Yesterday, as well as practicing the new speech, I even did a yoga class, watched a TV show, took a nap and did some colouring. I wanted to follow the joy – to do what I enjoy doing. Not to spend the day sacrificing what I enjoy so that I can work.

Are you wondering how the talk went? It was great fun. I enjoyed it, the audience was receptive and engaged and I got great feedback. I’ve learnt an interesting lesson from this experience. When the joy shines through, it’s a happy experience for me and my audience.


Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we define success. I think it’s much like happiness – we can spend our lives looking for it outside ourselves but both originate from within. Both are highly subjective. Even the term to measure happiness in positive psychology is ‘subjective well-being‘. I got caught in the trap of working so hard on my success that the happiness was suffering. Part of what I talk about is that success follows happiness and I experienced that first hand yesterday.

I received good feedback from the Monday talk and I know I can be hard in myself. The major difference in the two talks, however, was how I felt about it. Joy was present in the second one and that made all the difference. I felt successful in the second one and I’m really happy I listened to my inner voice and followed the joy.

Do you have a clear picture of what success and happiness look like in your life?

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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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