Sunday, August 21, 2022

Excellence. It's Worth Rooting For.

"I'm rooting for Excellence."

Over the past few days, Toastmasters International, a 98 year old non-profit organization focused on building leadership and communication skills, held it's
 World Championship of Public Speaking. I've been a member since 1999, and have competed in this particular contest numerous times, finishing as high as 3rd in the World in 2006, top 10 in 2008, and top 20 in 2002, 2007, and 2009.

As a coach, I've worked with many other contestants over the years, all of whom have reached various levels of success. As a 23 year Toastmaster, I've made friends with 1000s around the world - and many invariably end up competing at the highest levels of the contest.

All this to say this - I routinely get asked "who are you rooting for"?

My answer is always this -
 "I'm rooting for Excellence."

Typically, excellence wins out, but I'm not just rooting for excellence to WIN, but for excellence across the board. Only one can win in a competition like this one, but all can show excellence in their performance, delivery, and/or content.

Rooting for excellence goes beyond Toastmasters, of course. When I can't root for my Iowa Hawkeyes, Colorado Avalanche & Rockies, or Denver Nuggets and beloved Broncos because they're out of contention, I root for excellence. For great games. For legendary performances. If nothing else, I root for outstanding efforts.

Competition which results in only one winner can be brutal. The old saying for those who come in second is that they are the 'first loser' (which makes no sense, because technically they are the LAST loser, but, whatever.) People forget who took second in most competitions. When was the last time you thought about Mondale or Dukakis? Losing in a winner takes all competition puts a beating on self-worth, momentum, and motivation. The focus goes to the result, instead of the journey.

Any journey, regardless of the result, can be excellent. Just ask Bill & Ted.

Your most important journey, fortunately, isn't winner take all. Your LIFE is not a zero-sum game. You aren't competing with anyone else, unless you choose to be competing. Your happiness, your success, your excellence -- doesn't need to be compared to anyone else in the world, as long as YOU are satisfied. Satisfied doesn't mean settling, mind you. No participation trophies here. 

Satisfied means you've defined your own victories, and protected them against the expectations of others. Satisfied means taking pleasure in your own progress and production, celebrating it, and using the your personal victories today to push you toward more personal victories tomorrow. Without allowing the outside world to tell you you haven't achieve anything, haven't arrived, and need to just lay low until you reach THEIR definition of success, their mountaintop, their victory.

Who are they to define you? Who are they to determine your effort, your excellence? They only have power when you pass it over to them - be it in open competition, the workplace, a relationship - your success is your choice, unless you let it be their choice

You can choose to WinAnyway, and celebrate today to prepare for continuing tomorrow. Even if you take a step back, even if technically you LOSE, you can find your own victories in your own journey. You can celebrate your moments of excellence.

Cyril Junior Dim is the 2022 World Champion of Public Speaking. The contest started with roughly 30,000 people competing, including me. That makes 29,999 losers. Some lost quickly, some lost eventually, a few lost at the last possible moment. But all had the opportunity to show excellence - and regardless of how it stood up against the excellence of others, or the judgments of those called to sift through the speakers in search of their subjective choice of the best - they each achieved something worth celebrating.

By choosing to WinAnyway, you can focus on excellence, versus competition. Perhaps your excellence will lead to you winning some sort of contest against thousands of others. Cool, if it happens. But your excellence is personal. When you put your excellence in the hands of others, it may be minimized or even invalidated. Which is why you have to protect it. Recognize it. Protect it. Use it for tomorrow.

And always....Root for it.

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