Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Reaching for Your Dreams

My speech for our Toastmasters Club Humorous Speech Contest last November 19. I wasn't really consumed with winning, but only to provide a good effort. I managed to get third place.

When I was a younger man just coming out of high school I was aiming to become a mover and shaker in this world. Maybe I would make a career in human rights law. Maybe I would make a career in politics.

Nowadays feeling my footsteps on the floor as I walk, I’m sure at least I can make the earth shake around me.

We all have dreams. We dream of a better future. We dream of world peace. We dream of good things for our families.

I say one thing, it’s wonderful to dream, but please, don’t dream in front of your desk.

Speaking of dreaming and sleeping, I remember one of my close friends back in high school who said, “One day I will marry my dream girl.” When we were in college, he devoted himself to nothing but the attainment of this goal. When I met up with him last March, I asked him, “how is it being married.”

Then he said, “My dream girl turned out to be a nightmare wife!”

Ah, wives. You can’t live with them, but you can’t kill them either. The old saying goes, “Behind every successful man is a woman.” Some of you may agree. My friend, who has been married for ten years (since he married straight out of university), has this to say: “To be successful, a man has to earn his money. To be successful, a woman just has to marry it.”

Seriously, women, women, they are the blessings of our lives. They make this world beautiful. I once had my heart broken over religion. I was broke, and my girlfriend worshipped money. I loved that girl so much, I suffered from asthma. Every time someone would ask me to do something, or go anywhere, I’d simply say, “Asth-ma girlfriend, she’ll tell you.”

But let’s get back to reaching our dreams. It’s really important for us to go out and do the things which would help us realize them, instead of letting things pass us by.

Sometimes, though it can be tough, balancing your personal, professional, and community life. There can be tough stretches at work. I can attest that my boss is a disciplined taskmaster, but he is also compassionate and considerate. I used to work for a very hard-driving boss and we had the most wonderful of conversations. For example:

Boss: Where is my presentation? I need it this very minute!
Me: If I do what you tell me to, will this change the world?

He was a difficult boss to work for, so there was this one time, some of us staff sent him a memo, saying, “Sir, please absent yourself from the office. We perform so much better without you!”

Then there’s one time when I made a mistake…
Me: Sir, I’m sorry I made that mistake in the presentation…
Boss: Sorry, sorry, sorry! What would your sorry do now?
Me: At least I felt bad, sir.

Then there’s this other time where we really had a bad argument. So finally I said, “Sir, whatever it is I am doing wrong it’s not my fault, it’s yours. After all, you’re the boss!”

Bosses are human beings. I’m sure the people around here have supervised people in one way or another, and really, sometimes it’s tough.

When you climb a mountain to reach your dreams, sometimes it’s difficult to see the end in mind. A wise man once offered this piece of advice “A goal only looks difficult from afar. Watch the mountain disappear when you start climbing it. From the top of a mountain, you cannot see the mountain.”

Just this weekend, I fulfilled one of my childhood ambitions to act onstage. When I was smaller (if you could imagine me being smaller), I had an intense case of stage fright. I would mumble whenever I spoke in public, I stuttered, I had a tendency to eat my words while speaking. But I was determined to get over it. One setback that stopped me from pursuing acting until recently was this dramatic scene I was playing while I was still in high school. I had just reached the most climactic scene, bursting out in tears, when all the audience laughed. Laughed their hearts out.

You see, in all my exertions, my pants zipper gave out.

Gentlemen, laughing is a gift. Let’s laugh, especially if the joke is on us.

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