May 08

Prepare To Die

Speaker: Joseph Ch’ng

 

Joseph P3“Deng…” (Sound of flight announcement)

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking…”

“I have some bad news for you. All four of our engines have stopped. We are currently doing our best to get the plane under control. Please stay calm and if you can, please pray for our safe landing.”

My heart sank. So deep… For the first time.

Suddenly I didn’t know what to do. The whole aircraft was filled with screams, people reacting, people huddled together, the children were crying, the adults were crying… “I don’t wanna die… I don’t wanna die… oh God please help us…”

The worst of our nightmare have happened… as much as we don’t want to believe it… we are all… probably…. going to die….

The Muslims sitting one row before me started saying his prayers in Arabic…

The guy next to me held a cross in his hands, saying his prayers to God…

I knew I really needed to pray… but I just couldn’t get myself to do anything. Flashes of thoughts run through my mind… I am going to miss my family, I am going to miss my dog, I am going to miss my home… there’s so many things I am going to miss…

And there’s so many things I haven’t got to doing… I haven’t been to the US… I haven’t proposed to the girl I love…  there’s many people I want to tell them that I am sorry, for how we have gotten off the wrong foot… and my parents… I haven’t tell them that I love them very much… and thank you for raising me up…

Is this the end?

Am I really gonna die today?

What will happen after this?

 

(Pause)

 

Good evening Club President, fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen…

As of now… I have paused the video… This is a movie… Because I am here today talking to you. So I couldn’t have been in that situation, right?

In light of the many airline accidents we had last year… of which, we are still mourning and praying for them now, I have chosen to talk about this today because I take flights back to Malaysia many times a year, and I thought that maybe like me, you too may have this same thought that “it could happen to anyone of us…”

Quite scary, isn’t it.

Imagine that very moment, strapped onto that seat of a crashing plane, realizing that we no longer have control over our lives… it may well be the last few minutes we have to live.

What can we do?

Really, I have given quite some thought about this. And finally, I asked myself this: What if we could prepare ourselves ahead – to die?

I know, this sounds a bit crazy. When things are going well in life, who wants to think about dying, right?

When I was young, there was a time when I heard about people dying and I kept tearing because I was so scared of the day when it’ll be my turn.

But everybody dies.

Coming to accept that this is the inevitable ending for all of us, I thought that when I am going to die, at least, I want to die a peaceful death, with a smile on my face.

And I know that this cannot happen just by thinking about it. There’s no way to know how it will end… if I were to be strapped on a crashing plane, it is going to be hard to smile.

So this is gonna take some practice – to make peace with myself, to live my life zealously, to appreciate every person, every thing and every moment that passes through my life. And to accept death as a completion of my life.

This is what I mean by preparing to die. So that we know what to do when the moment comes, so that we know how to manage ourselves and how to say a peaceful goodbye.

I guess dying doesn’t have to be dark, scary, unwilling or sad. I finally understood why the heroes in the movies sacrifice themselves with a smile on their face. It is about peace, joy and bliss at the very ending.

I am sharing these with you today because some day in the future, some of us may have to “make a move” first. And when that day comes, I want to to know that we are smiling as we leave.

I hope I’ve managed to show you a different way to see death.

And I want to leave you with this question:

How do you want to die?

Do give this a good thought, because I have a good feeling that it will change your lives, and the lives of those you love.

 

Back to you, Toastmaster of the Evening.

May 05

My Bachelorette party in KL

Speaker: Pei Geok

 

Pei Geok P3

Good evening, Club President, distinguished guests and fellow toastmasters. My name is Pei Geok and I would be doing project 3: Get to the Point. Today I will be talking about my Bachelorette party which happened in KL a few weeks ago and identify a few elements of a bachelor/ bachelorette party according to my own experience. Sounds INTERESTING? First of all, let me ask everyone. How many of you are no longer a bachelor/ bachelorette? How many of you (those who put up your hands earlier) had a bachelor/ bachelorette party? Lastly, how many of you threw a bachelor/ bachelorette party for your friends before? Ah that note of these people, beware of them.

It has been a yearly tradition for us to celebrate Christmas or New Year together, usually in Malaysia because it is the cheapest and easiest overseas trip to organise. Good exchange rate and you can easily drive or take bus to the Woodlands checkpoint and viola you are in Malaysia. We decided to have our yearly party this time in KL with an additional agenda: bachelor/ bachelorette party for my friend and I who are getting married next year but not to each other of course! We departed for KL on 19 Dec Fri night. Well only 3 of us flew to KL while another was already in Malaysia having gone for a diving trip earlier. The remaining 4 decided to save money and drove up to KL on Sat morning instead. These remaining 4 only reached the apartment we were staying in close to 4pm because it took them 2 hours to clear the customs.

Here comes the first element: Games. The tekan session started that Sat evening. My friends thought of a devious questionnaire game where both the bachelor and I had to compete against each other and be the fastest to answer the questions. The loser had to drink a forfeit. Imagine the forfeit possibilities: beer, 60% neat whisky and mixers. I would like to quote a phrase from the Hunger Games which best describe this game: “may the odds be ever in your favour”. The mission of my friends was to dig as many secrets as possible from us. I cannot reveal the juicy questions or answers but let me give you a teaser. One of the more harmless questions was: What made you propose or say yes when he proposed? You might ask who the winner for this game was. The bachelor or bachelorette? I think I was the winner for the bachelor had to empty his stomach first before moving on the second part of the party. Not that I am a good drinker it was more of I managed to quench their thirst for answers.

Second element of the party: more alcohol at Zouk (the venue does not matter). The bachelor and I had a series of dares to do and for every completed dare my friends will need to drink 3 shots. Examples of the dares were talk to a complete stranger for 1 min. Get a stranger’s number of the opposite sex. Sounds like toastmasters doesn’t it? In order to reserve a table at Zouk we had to open 2 bottles of alcohol. We opened a bottle of vodka and soon we were toasting to everyone. We then moved to Velvet for some grooving to LMFAO and many other songs and drinks. In case you were wondering what happened to our dares, we managed to avoid doing them because everyone was so high from drinking and dancing that our dares became secondary. What do I mean by high? We were slapping on red lipstick and giving kisses to everyone in the group, regardless male or female. That’s what alcohol does to you. Frankly I didn’t escape unscathed for the bachelor ordered 2 flaming Lamborghini. Warning: the drink is spicy! I also had the unfortunate situation of being pulled up to the stage to display myself. By 330am one of us was so zonked out that he was catching some sleep eye on the couches and half of us then decided to leave for our cozy beds. However it was not uneventful for the remaining group. One of my friends was snapped with a lot of kisses plastered all over his face and the two beautiful culprits besides him. I hope the bachelors / bachelorettes in this room are taking notes.

The most important element of a bachelor/ bachelorette party if you have not realized by now is of course friends. Without friends, you wouldn’t have the devious games, dares, alcohol accompanied by puking and of course laughter and fun. Our history went back to 2006 when we formed the 27th committee of NUS Rovers Adventure Club. Anything can happen with this group of friends and this is a group that is willing to have fun and at the same time go through pits of hell together. Some examples of pits of hell we went through: We went to Gunung Stong some years back and my friend just missed the train at JB. Most people would have given up and gone straight home. He didn’t and he chased the train literally. He asked us to find out where was the pit stop for the train and he took taxi to the pit stop and eventually met up with us at one of the train stations. To further demonstrate this group’s hard-coreness, one of my friends took a coach back to Singapore after this Zouk outing forgoing sleep in order to celebrate his first year anniversary with his girlfriend. Now that’s the kind of friends you wouldn’t be able to find every day. There are also face palm moments with this group of friends, for example one of my friends booked the Saturday instead of the Sunday flight. The remaining ones who drove back, almost became sitting ducks in the interrogation room at the customs because they forgot to declare the beer bottles they brought back to Singapore.

In total, I have shared three important elements of a bachelor/ bachelorette party with you: 1. Games – Remember the questionnaire game where the bachelor and I had to pit against each other in order not to drink ourselves? 2. Alcohol – Self-explanatory, need I to explain more? 3. Friends – Without friends there will be no entertainment / sabotage. Of course, we must not forget the main character of the party: The bachelor / bachelorette which is ME. Lastly, I would like to end off my recap of my bachelorette party with a quote from Mr Robert Bloch to appreciate my friends: “Friendship is like peeing on yourself: everyone can see it, but only you get the warm feeling that it brings.” To these pees that I have, thank you very much for being a part of my life and staying on. Thank you.

May 03

Future of Talking

Speaker: Shrijan Joshi

 

Joshi P2Good Evening Mr Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and most distinguished guests,

The title of my speech today is:

Future of Talking

 

Do you sometimes imagine a future 50 years from now?

I wonder what it would be like?

Will there be flying cars?

Will it be like Star Trek where we get beamed to places.

Or will we all comfortably expect to live to be 125.

Imagine a world like that.

What would it mean then in 2065 to do you projects in toastmasters.

What would it mean to be a good communicator?

 

Today we have the technology and all things Internet.

Communication is getting easier, faster, more everywhere.

With all our smart phones, ‘always on’, we are communicating today in many ways and with more people than ever before.

We are now not only communicating with people, we have also started interfacing and talking to machines.

Soon we will be seeing more technological interfaces making communication and computing a natural part of our lives.

With all that tech, seems like we are expressing more, connecting more;

But are we necessarily being good communicators?

 

To answer that, lets pack our bags and go to 2065 when everyone is hyper connected and always communicating.

But 2065 would surely have a few things we don’t have today; let imagine together a few things that could be available to a wannabe good communicator of 2065!

 

The first thing I would would want in 2065 is to download a competent communicator app. I would imagine the app to called the Lincoln App. Why is the app named after Lincoln, the 16th American president.

Well apparantly when Abraham Lincoln talked he could really emphatize with the audience.he could make You feel like you were the only person in the world. Lincoln connected with his audience. Imagine an app that could instantly let your listeners connect with you. Would you not download such an app? It would surely be one of my favorite apps.

What other gifts would the future hold?

 

How about communication super pills. I can think of 3 magic pills of various colors.

The first the red pill would Disarm the audience,

the blue pill would help to Engage the audience

and the big yellow pill would create Focus.

Taking the red pill would Disarm the naturally defensive audience. It would make the speaker non threatening and bring humour to your speech. It could make you comfortable and have confidence in your speech; you would share your good energy in the conversation and disarm the audience..

The exciting neon blue pill would help you engage the audience by teaching you how to give and take in a reciprocal manner.

Not only would it help you initiate the conversation.

It could also help you be an amazing communicator, who is informed and yet ready to listen, learn, and participate.

The last pill is the tiny yellow pill called the Focus pill. I imagine it to be most popular pill and would be ideal for all of you participating in the the table topics round..

It would help you instantly set structure to your speech and you’ll be able to communicate ideas in an efficient and powerful way.

 

I have saved the best for the last. Imagine breaking the barrier in all communication, yes, the barrier of language. Imagine somethings to solve that.

I call it the ‘the Babel Fish’.

Many of you who have read the book ‘The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy’ would have heard of this.

the babel fish is an alien fish like thing that you put inside your ears. As you squeeze it in, and connects to you, it instantly starts translations for you all communications regardless of language. Imagine languages no longer a barrier between people.

 

In the hyper cosmopolitan mish mash world of 2065, with the babel fish between my ears, I could communicate to all of you in my own native dialect and everyone would instantly understand without missing a single pun.

Imagine the fun in that!

With all these magical gifts that 2065 has to offer, am sure all of us would be great communicators.

 

Until then, good communication is still a human endeavor.

In the end I want to leave you with Abraham Lincoln’s words: The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.

 

Thank You

May 01

The Counter State of Embarrassment

Speaker: Joseph Ch’ng

 

Joseph P2I was at the Star Vista mall the other day, and I was looking for the toilet. Being in a rushy state, and rather desperate as well… I almost walked into the ladies’ toilet.

 

And I was “caught”… because a lady was coming out of the toilet… Luckily she didn’t scream… but boy I sure was embarrassed about that and my face turned to something like this.

It was later that day when I rethink about this, I asked myself, why was I embarrassed about making a mistake?

 

Fellow toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen.

Can I get a show of hands how many of you here don’t like to be in an embarrassing situation?

How many of you here would prefer no one notice you when you make an embarrassing mistake?

We have something in common. (Grin)

The question I asked myself “why was I embarrassed about making a mistake?” – it had made me realize that there could be a harsher truth about embarrassment.

That is – every single time I make a mistake and I feel embarrassed about it, or I even tried to cover it up; I am actually telling myself it is not ok to make mistakes… I am reinforcing this thought to myself that I cannot accept my mistakes and imperfections.

And the thing is, imagine doing this again and again to myself over the years, how much damage it would have done to my overall self-acceptance level, how I feel about myself, my overall level of happiness.

This is certainly not something I want in my life. I want to be confident, I want to be happy, and I want to be comfortable in my own skin.

To get to that, I realized, I have to start treating mistakes differently.

And that brought me to look at the counter state of mistakes and embarrassment. It’s called self-trust.

I would like to share with you 3 things I have learned about building self-trust.

 

The first thing I have learned about self-trust is when I make a mistake, it is good to apologize sincerely, but I don’t need to explain myself.

I noticed that every single time I tried to explain myself in hopes that people would understand, I no longer have the power to decide that I will be ok. I have given it away for other people to decide that I will be ok.

By choosing to not explain myself, it is a pattern breaker. It is training myself to be ok with my mistakes… Seeing mistakes as part and parcel of my life; just like eating, showering and sleeping. Things we do every day. And Everything moves on.

 

The second thing I have learned about self-trust is I don’t need wait for people’s approval to do something.

By this, I don’t mean you should go ahead book that expensive business-class ticket to Japan without approval from your boss.

Let me give you an example so that you can relate to this. Think about Steve Jobs. He didn’t wait for the market to approve of his vision of how the iPhone should be, did he?

He would build the best iPhone he would love to use and then present it to the market. He simply trusted in his vision, he trusted his product, and as a matter of fact, because of this, we trusted him even more.

 

The third thing I have learned about self-trust is that in the face of difficulty, we just need to tell someone “I will do it”.

It is about making a commitment; like committing to do your speech, one month before the next meeting – even though you don’t have a topic yet, even though you have not been speaking for the past 8 years.

If you declare your commitment to someone and you really mean it, this will be very powerful because at the subconscious level, this is equivalent to declaring “I am willing to do it even though I am going to make mistakes and I am imperfect.” Imagine how many seeds of self-trust we are planting, if we keep doing this.

Again, the key here is to tell someone, and mean it.

 

As toastmasters, I guess probably all of us who comes up here to speak, we can all relate to the inner struggle, the fear that we might make mistake and embarrass ourselves in front of everyone. (I don’t know… maybe Clement or Glenn don’t have such fear..)

Well, I would like to make a suggestion – that when we come for meeting each month, we see this as an opportunity, a training ground to develop our self-trust, a place we actively support each other develop our self-trust.

Self-trust is a very powerful thing. Not only it helps us make peace with our imperfections, it gives us confidence, it gives us charisma. As you build up self-trust in yourselves, you will realize that almost like a miracle, people will start treating you differently, people will get attracted to you, even without you do anything. Isn’t that a useful benefit to have?

So building on self-trust, the next time if I ever step into the ladies’ toilet again (unintentionally, of course)… it is ok… I will just apologize, and walk out.

 

Apr 28

Rule #5: Harden the F Up

Speaker: Sandip

 

Sandip P2Good evening toastmaster of the evening, fellow toastmasters, guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am Sandip and today, I’ll be embarking on my second project with a speech titled Rule #5: Harden the F Up! For those of us who know how to ride a bicycle, I think you would agree with me that you do it for the feeling of the wind across your face, the smell of the air and the freedom of exploration. And for those of us who are more serious sportives who enjoy the pain of the sport, may be aware of the sacred rules by a website called Velominati. Among them is probably the most important one, Rule #5: Harden the F Up!

This is a story how I learned to mediate on this sacred rule. In Oct 2011, after a short run, I realised I had a little pain in my left foot. So I do what every runner does – ignore. During a race the following week, from the first step, the pain struck me hard, but I kept going and hoped it would disappear. After enduring the pain for an hour and a half, I realised it was game over. My left foot was swollen to twice its size and hurt like a thousand devils. The fate was sealed for this race but I was worried more about the marathon in 3 months’ time. After a night of excruciating pain, the next day, I went for an X-ray. I saw a thin black line on the image and it broke my heart. A stress fracture. So doctor’s orders were no walking for a week, no cycling for 4 weeks and no running for 6. I asked her if I can run the marathon in 8 weeks’ time and she said yes, if you are mad. And just like the different stages of grief, I went through different emotions, week after week.

Week 0: Denial. Feelings of this can’t be happening to me! I do not deserve this! How I am going to deal with this? Ran through my head. I had been in training for 6 months for the marathon and I was in the best shape I’ve been in years for a personal best and now it’s gone down the drain. So what does one do when they feel bad? Stuff your face with junk food.

Week 1: Anger. Time to go back to work after sitting on my butt for a week. My foot hurt so badly while getting my shoe on, that it felt like an achievement when I was done. Walking to the MRT, which usually takes me 5 mins, took me 25. I received annoyed stares from people because I was getting in their way. I reached work 45mins late and could barely move once I got to my seat. But like the 9gag meme goes, people brought me whatever I needed, which I had going for me, which is nice.

Week 2: Bargaining. I tried to find means to deal with the situation by sacrificing something else. Maybe if I go for a morning walk, it will help. Or maybe if I pray harder it’ll heal faster. Maybe this, maybe that. Of course, nature takes it course and there is no way to accelerate biology, I could not stop myself from bargaining that if you give up something, the foot will fix itself. Of course, its does not.

Week 3: Depression. And when you realise, there is no bargaining with biology, you get upset as the situation is not in control. For many nights, I cried to sleep because all my friends were carrying on their usual runs and they seemed to be having a good time and I felt left out. I did join them from breakfast a few times to catch up, but when they were discussing what races they would go for, I could only listen in envy and then feel sorry for myself.

Week 4: Acceptance. The worst moment came when I went for a routine medical check-up. Weight was up – 4 kgs. I realised that I had not only ignored to adjust my diet to my sedentary lifestyle but I had also consumed a ton of junk food. Though the whole roller coaster of emotions little did I realise that it was the 4th week. I was able to walk normally, so why not head to the chin up bar and do a few chin ups to try to get back into shape. Not being able to haul myself up, I hung like a bat before giving out a few seconds later.

Week 5: Meditation. This is where it all changed. Time to pump the tyres, clean the chain, check the brakes and bring my bike out for a spin. It was a sufferfest. I got passed so many times on the usual route where I used to kick butt, I felt sorry for myself. I slugged it out for an hour, came back, completed my bat training. After one these terrible rides, I was lazing at home when I came across a Youtube video of a cycling legend called Jen Voigt. He was talking about how painful climbing up the mountains in Tour de France was. He said that when his legs are about to give up in pain, he talks to them and tell them, ‘’Shut up Legs!’’. As I read up on him his theory of self-inflicted pain revolved around Rule #5 – ‘’Harden the F Up’’. So every week, for 3 times a week, I took my bike for a spin on the slopes of Mandai. It has a fantastic 15km loop which is of slopes good enough to make an adult cry in pain. So every week, I made sure I suffered like a dog on every single slope, and when I my legs and lungs were about to go bust, I sighed at myself, ‘Harden the F Up!’ On some days, just to intensify the suffering, I used to set off after the sun was up and ride well into the day in the heat. I was able to start off with one loop and by the end of 3 weeks of lung bursting and mind numbing training, I had not only lost the 4 kgs, I was stronger than I was before my injury. I remember I was so strong on those slopes that once I overtook a pack of riders, on an upslope at 40kph on my 4th loop reminding me to – Harden the F Up.

Week 9: Recovery. After many weeks on 2 wheels, I planned to go for a 10km run at an easy pace. After just 10 mins, I was so motivated that I committed to the full 17km route. I was hard as nails and I set such a blistering pace that I beat my personal best, by 10 mins. I knew I was back, stronger not just physically but mentally and emotionally. From the time 10 weeks back when I was groaning and moaning about my injury, to beating my personal best. I knew had Hardened the F Up!

So when I had my cycling accident in early August this year, after week of moaning and grumbling, I realised that I shouldn’t slide back to where I was 3 years ago. I was patient, ate right, try my best not be upset with a situation I cannot change, and tell myself that when the time to train comes, get into mediation mode with Rule #5. So since my injury, I haven’t gained a single kilo of weight and when I went for a run in Germany in mid-September, I set myself a hellish pace and I suffered through the training by reminding myself to obey Rule #5: Harden the F Up! Since then it’s been a meditation session every run and ride and although I’m not fully physically recovered yet, I’m sure meditation on this sacred rule get me there in due time. So ladies and gentlemen, when you come across moments that test you physically, mentally or emotionally, remember, when the going gets tough, Harden the F Up and you’ll be tough enough to going.

Thank you! Toastmaster of the evening

Apr 26

Lessons from my Braces

Speaker: Pei Geok

 

PG P2Good evening distinguished guests and fellow toastmasters. Today I will be sharing some valuable lessons with you which I learned from this dental treatment, braces, which can be applicable to both personal and professional relationships and lives.

I started wearing braces in Apr 2013 and as you can see and I am still wearing them. I have always wanted to do braces, not because I like to have my teeth in metal brackets or to make my teeth the centre of attention in photos by reflecting the flash from the camera. More fundamentally I was not happy with how my teeth looked back then. I had one extra tooth on the bottom row of my teeth because God decided to give me one extra tooth, resulting in overcrowding. The teeth on the upper row weren’t perfect either. They were too big resulting in one of them making sacrifices and taking a step back from its bigger brothers and sisters.

As you all know, dental treatments in Singapore are not cheap so I held back this wish of mine. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family who can afford to pay for my braces so I bided my time till I started working. Even when I started working, the thought of spending $4 – 5K was too daunting and I shelved the idea. I asked people who were on braces about their treatments and the cost, hoping to find a cheaper option. It was only until I talked to a friend and realised that there was a really cheap option: be a guinea pig at the NUS Dentistry Graduate program. This option only cost me $2.2k excluding GST. This is my first lesson of the day: when there’s a will there’s a way. If you look hard enough you will find a glimmer of hope elsewhere where you didn’t expect it.

When I first started the treatment I received much feedback from others. Suddenly you will realize a lot of people have done braces before. Many told me that I will have ulcers due to the abrasion of the braces with my cheeks. I will also not be able to eat much vegetable because they tend to stick on the braces, making unsightly appearances at my friends. I will need to wear retainers for the rest of my life. This fact is horrifying to me as I have already had this treatment for 2 years and I still need to be stuck with retainers for the rest of my life? For those looking at weight loss programs, you will like this next part: you will lose weight from the treatment as you need to go for teeth tightening every month and you will not be able to eat then. Disclaimer: this weight loss program is not for those who love to eat. The best feedback of all was from my mum: so old already still do braces! I must say this is sadly true because braces tend to be associated with teenagers. You often see school kids and university students wearing braces and only a handful of working adults wearing them. At that time it was too late for me to stop the treatment for I have already extracted five good teeth and I couldn’t possibly say that I want to stop the treatment with the obvious gaps.

To top it off, my dentist gave me a warning when she fixed the brackets on my teeth. For those who were here last month, you might remember my incident of my front tooth fracture where I fell off my bicycle at Paya Lebar MRT and landed flat on my face. The application of braces moves the teeth as a result of force and pressure on the teeth. This application of pressure and force on my teeth, especially the tooth fracture, may cause my fractured tooth to die. When I heard it I was like “What!? Why didn’t you mention it earlier?” The moral of the above examples is: There is a calculated risk in everything you do. The question is can you live with it?

1.5 years went by and I had my fair share of ulcers, porridge and soft food, vegetables and noodles waving happily at my friends when I talked or smiled after meals. Currently I am towards the end of the treatment. My dentist gave my teeth some finishing touches by filing my teeth, especially my tigress canines so I would look less aggressive. I must say dentists are always bad news. While she was cleaning my teeth recently, she informed me that I had to live with the gaps at the bottom of my teeth as I did not clean my teeth properly resulting in the buildup of plaque and thus the gaps. Unlike the upper gums, which can fill up the gaps between the upper teeth, the lower gums cannot grow upwards and fill up the gaps. Human beings being visual creatures, I only cleaned what I could see. Don’t judge a book by its cover or in this case, judge your teeth by its state for there are countless bacteria lurking in your mouth, waiting for its chance. The lesson learnt here is: As the dental saying goes, Dentistry is not expensive, neglect is which I do agree and only realize at a very much later stage of my life. I suppose this is largely due to my family’s upbringing for my parents emphasize on our 3 meals and sleep rather than on cleaning our teeth.

In total, I have shared three valuable lessons with you: 1. When there’s a will there’s a way. Don’t give up when you face problems at home or at work. 2. There will always be a risk in everything you do. For example, even when you cross the road, there is always a remote possibility that you will die from crossing the road. Live life to the fullest, make your decisions and live with them. 3. Take good care of your teeth. Lastly, I would like to end off my morbid speech with the following quote from Mallory Hopkins: Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.

Apr 24

Crossing Borders

Speaker: Sandip

 

Sandip P1Good evening Toastmaster of the day, fellow toastmasters, guests, ladies and gentlemen. We always have a single event in life that changes us. 14 Feb 1998, I remember this date not because what 14th Feb represents I was in love, but I had to leave the familiarity of the place I called home and relocate overseas. How many people here have moved houses? How many have moved countries? And how many have moved countries when you are a young teenager in your formative years?

As a teenager, there very few things that you have to deal with – which when taken away from you, you can’t deal with it. The most important among them are friends and how I fit in with them. Soon I realised, unlike moving houses, at least I had friends in school who I will meet. This was vastly different from moving houses, it was moving out of the country. And at that time, the most popular mode to keep touch was hand written letters.

So over a period of one evening, I had scores of calls to make to friends and spend no more than a minute with them to say good-bye and the hardest part was to not being able to tell them when I will be seeing them next. All I had was one evening to do all this as the flight was leaving at 10am the next morning. And when someone didn’t pick up the phone, I know that it’s going to be a good bye in spirit through a common friend. How I wish we would have Facebook and mobile phones then but well, I made the best of the time I had and that was all I could hope for.

Comes 1st March 1998, it was my first day in school, mid-semester. Now you have this fat little boy wearing custom made waist pants, joining school in the middle of the semester, which has afro hair, huge glasses, a pink coloured hard pencil case which has the entire tech popping out when you press buttons on them with the end result looking like a missile launcher, and to top it all off, a Mickey Mouse trolley bag. I have no idea what I was thinking but it screams, please come and bully me. It made such a good impact to my reputation that my then classmates remember this stuff even after 16 years.

I was made to sit between 2 skinny guys, maybe just to make me feel I was one of them. Kim Ken and Howard, the first 2 friends I had in class. I’m so glad they taught me how to fit in, basically starting with the glasses, the bag and pencil case. They introduced me to the flowery language that was used by the ah-bengs in school so that I can enjoy their conversations from a safe distance. Taught me who was who in the local media, starting with PCK and the characters from ‘Under One Roof’, brought me to the local malls to eye and sometimes buy the pirated CDs (which is not a thing to be proud of but made me one of the cool kids), who were the younger and hotter teachers in school, where the errant boys go for a smoke, which kids and teachers to stay away from and the ‘haunted corners in school’, what is good to eat where, getting which flavour of slurpee made you hip, getting which toy pro-yo or digimon made you the envy of your friends, having a Pentium 1 120MHz processor with Windows 95 made you the top geek in school. Basically, how to be a typical Sec 2 Singaporean teenager boy in the 1990s.

The experience of schooling in a local school here changed who I was, what I liked, what I did for a past-time and basically set the stone to be a young Singaporean – something when I went back to India to meet my friends a year later, I realised that most of the link was gone. I was a changed person, with different hobbies and pastimes, different set of vocabulary, a different accent and most of all, different expectations in life. That is when I realised that I am now a Singaporean kid which sometimes made me feel guilty as I was expected to feel that I would come back to India and settle down which although what I expected from myself initially, I realised that it’s not going to happen.

Sometimes I do feel a little guilty that I am not as Indian as I was but after a decade and a half here, I feel stronger to be a Singaporean, which I feel proud to be.

 

Apr 21

Pain

Speaker: Pei Geok

 

Pei Geok P1Good evening, fellow toastmasters and distinguished guests. Today I am starting on my maiden project, the icebreaker speech. I am sure most of you would have gone for interviews and the very first question the interviewer likes to ask is: Tell me something about yourself. So I would like to share something about myself: which is my magical powers of high pain resistance. I have been drilled thoroughly by my master: pain throughout the years. Let me share some stories with you and you can gauge for yourself.

The first incident happened when I was just a mere 5-6 years old. My sister then was only a few months old and like all newborns, she only drank milk, slept, cried and pooed. I remembered I was wearing my favourite pink dress that fateful day when my sister urinated into the floor and I was tasked by my mum to bring over a rag to wipe up the mess. So I ran with the wet cloth underneath my feet to the kitchen, wanting to dispose it as soon as possible. I didn’t get my wish granted, in fact I slipped just as I was about to reach the kitchen and knocked my head against the pillar. After the knock, I was like dazed and stunned while the blood from the open wound trickled down my face onto my pink dress. My mum brought me to a nearby clinic hoping the doctor there can stitch me up. I think I was really out of luck that day. It was raining cats and dogs when we had to brave the rain to the clinic. The wound was too deep for the doctor to do his magic and we went to the hospital instead. The doctor there stitched up my wound without giving me any anaesthesia or injection to knock me up. Throughout the whole stitching process I was wide awake and had to pinch my face up whenever the needle poked through my skin. The doctor even praised me for being a good girl throughout the whole stitching process for I did not fidget at all nor cry.

Part two of my training was on bicycle. My bike incident happened during night cycling at Paya Lebar MRT. My front wheel just couldn’t go up a curb and I was the only one unable to do so! I magically fell forward and landed on my face. I remembered that stunned feeling again: that momentary feeling when you couldn’t feel or realise anything, it was like your brain just stops functioning then. My mouth felt numbed and I couldn’t close my mouth properly. My friend spoke in a hushed voice that there was blood all over my mouth and that my front tooth was chipped. So to the hospital again where the dentist tried to glue back the chip but the chip itself was also chipped and I had to take a tooth filling instead. You know the Christmas carol: All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth. So please appreciate your two front teeth.

The previous incident about my front tooth trained me well. I had to remove my wisdom teeth because they were growing out horizontally and was causing a gap between my molar and the wisdom teeth. Food always got stuck there and soon decay set in. I had to go through surgery to remove the teeth because they could not be extracted as they were growing horizontally. The surgeon asked me if I wanted to do one side only or do both sides. She told me that she could remove all 4 and the process would only take 15 – 30 minutes more. I was doing my final year project experiments and couldn’t afford to go twice if I were to remove one side first. Oh yah, I was awake during the whole procedure. Going for general anaesthesia may have side effects so I chose the fully awake option. I could feel hear and feel the surgeon cutting my gums open, knocking my wisdom teeth with her hammer into smaller pieces, removing the chopped teeth and then sewing the gums back. For those who had such an operation before would know the pain. I was tearing in pain when I reached home because I took my painkillers too late. Actually I am quite a stubborn one too. Because when I did my braces I had to remove five teeth and I chose to remove all five at one go. My reasoning was I didn’t want to sit through the whole process of waiting, the dentist giving me the injection to numb the area and then have the dentist try to loosen my teeth again. Being a practical person, removing all at one go is the correct choice.

Having heard the above four pain resistant stories, you all will probably agree that this girl truly has high pain tolerance or is crazy! Now that you know, please do not ask me if something is painful. You know my answer will probably be skewed. With that, I end my speech. Thank you.

Apr 19

Me and My Books

Speaker: Joseph Ch’ng

 

JosephHi, my name is Joseph and I like books.

Whenever my wife leaves me in the shopping mall so that she could do her own shopping, when she’s done and she comes looking for me, she knows that the place she will always find me is – the bookshop.

I recently moved to a new place and when I stacked up my luggage to be transported to the new place, about half of my possessions were – books.

And whenever I felt low in energy and I needed a dose of refreshing motivation, I knew that I have to be with books.

I like story books, but I like non-fiction books and self-help books more because they teach me perspectives about life and new things I can try out in my life.

So I thought that today, to tell you more about me, perhaps it would be easier and more comfortable for me to start from my books. 3 books that I like.

The first book I like is called The Power of Full Engagement. At the time when I picked up this book, I was pretty much not a human being – I was a human doing. I had a checklist of tasks to complete each day, and I often couldn’t give myself the permission to go to sleep because I didn’t think that I had completed enough things for the day.

This book taught me that I didn’t need more time to do more things, what I needed is more energy, quality energy. It was the total opposite of what I was doing in my life that time, which I had little sleep, I didn’t really play and I had lots of tasks to do…

So I tried out what I learned from the book, and the improvement I saw was that I actually started to enjoy living my life more, than basing my life on how many things I can accomplish.

The second book I like is called Give and Take. A friend recommended this book to me because her lecturer was the author of this book and it had changed the way she approach the success she seeks in her life. Well, this book did the same to me too.

This book spoke about 3 types of people in general – the taker, the matcher and the giver. I have found that I was a matcher who’s usually more passive and conservative when it comes to working with people. It taught me a lot about giving, how to give without burning myself out and most of all, to always look at increasing the pie so that there’s a piece for everyone in the room.

The third book I like is called Just Listen. I picked it up because I wanted to improve my relationship with people. From it, I learned that in the hearts of every human being is a want to be listened to, to be cherished, to be acknowledged. And we can touch their lives by giving them the gift of attention, to understand what are the things that they most seek in their lives, and then we can acknowledge them for the hard efforts they put in every single day for these things they seek. This book had taught me a valuable perspective that making people smile can be as satisfying as getting my point across.

So that’s the 3 books that have given me 3 powerful beliefs: The Power of Full Engagement taught me that life is about having quality energy to enjoy the things I do; Give and Take taught me that givers stay at the top of the race because they are authentic, caring and people want them to stay in the race; and Just Listen taught me how touch people’s lives by offering the gift of listening and acknowledgement.

I must say I am really grateful for the people who have penned down their thoughts, experience and research that results in me able to benefit from them; and I must also say that after spending quite a bit of time with books, at one corner of my heart, there sits a silent ambition that one day, I too hope that I can be an author as well.

 

Apr 17

Results or Growth?

Speaker: Clement Chio

 

It’s all over the news. In the past week, the parliament debated extensively about various policies that aims to shift cultures and change mindsets about being obsessed with a degree.

It may be late for our policy makers to realise this, but our meritocratic result-driven landscape is actually detrimental to society as well us us as individuals.

Being result-oriented, we often view goals as end points.

 

And after reaching the goal, we run the risk of being satisfied with our results and stagnates for a long while.

On the other hand, if we never get the result we want even for reasons beyond our control, what happens? We will never be satisfied.

If you only see yourself as a humourous speaker or an effective evaluator only after winning the contests on a Division or District level, what happens after you win?

If you don’t, you are going to attempt again year after year after year.

But does that mean you are cannot make people laugh?

Does that mean you are a lousy evaluator?

 

Ladies & gentlemen, let’s move away from pinning all our focus and attention on results.

It’s time we take titles, qualifications and accomplishments less seriously.

Let’s take away limiting beliefs by being rigidly fixated on outcome and consequence.

 

So, instead of being results-oriented, what should we focus on?

Should we be process-oriented instead, to focus on the process, to enjoy the smell of flowers enroute, to admire the scenery, instead of getting where we want to go?

 

Results don’t define us, neither should processes limit us.

Let’s move away from being results-oriented, not get too absorbed into being process-oriented, but embrace a new way of achieving our goals –

Let’s all, be Growth Oriented.

 

Being Growth Orientated deals with Goals in a different way:

Our goals, now, will be ever growing, in an incremental, measurable and achievable manner.

I this way, we will neither be stagnated while moving towards our goal or even when we’ve reached our goal.

 

In a way, it forces us, to keep growing.

More importantly, being Growth Oriented is more than just an external motivation.

It is a personal quest to self actualisation or making ourselves better, growing in skills, reaching new heights in what we do.

 

And there are 2, just 2 simple steps to change from being results oriented, or process oriented, to Growth Oriented:

Firstly, we have to constantly remind ourselves to step outside our comfort zone.

And this is something we have to repeatedly strive for.

Whenever we start to get butterflies in our stomachs, is when we have to stop and examine our heads:

Do we sit on the sidelines, and let the butterflies fly away naturally,

Or do we take a risk and grow gain a growing experience.

Such things are easy to say, but the truth is, opportunities to step outside the comfort zone arise everywhere, the question is: Do we want to travel the road less travelled?

For example, this speech could easily be evaluated using the tried and tested techniques and “scripts”, which may easily win you the Best Evaluator trophy.

Or do you want to push your creative limits, to evaluate this speech from an entirely different angle.

Well, it can go both ways. It could wow audience and score every point in the judges ballot sheet.

It could also backfire and cause you the glory of winning.

Which path will you embrace – Results, or Growth?

 

Secondly, we have to be constantly excited about where we can go.

It’s easy to look at a though problem we don’t understand and be discouraged about not having the solution right away.

Perhaps we don’t have the skills to solve it right now but what we really need, is to visualise and be excited about conquering it.

Instead of telling ourselves “I’m not talented enough to solve the problem”

We should think to ourselves “After I put my time and effort to figure this one out, think of all the skills I’d acquire for next time!”

Instead of tell yourself “Wa this crazy test speaker, I already prepared my evaluation how to evaluate him differently.”

Tell yourselves “This is exciting. In the next 5 minutes, I’m going to evaluate this bugger standing here in a way no Toastmaster has heard before, and I can use this skill to in the Divsion and District Contest!”

What thoughts will you embrace – the usual routine Process, or Growth?

 

But ladies & gentlemen, I truly understand that unhinging from Results and focusing on Growth instead is easier said than done.

Since young, we have all been programmed to value the end result.

Winners are put on a pedestal and glorified while losers fade into anonymity and darkness.

This meritocratic society of ours stretches the divide between those who can achieve tangible results, and neglects those who grow in other ways.

 

I’m not saying that a mindset change is going to be easy.

I’m saying that this change, is going to be worth it.

Embracing growth keeps our eyes on the horizon, while teaching us to be thankful for today and be excited about tomorrow.

Embracing growth pushes us to battle the challenges of today to equip us with the skills for many tomorrows.

Embracing growth welcomes risk, celebrates failure, collects lessons and believes in the eventual success.

 

At the end, ladies and gentlemen, it will be all OK.

If it’s not’s OK, it’s not the end.

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