Since I joined Seberang Jaya Toastmasters Club and reinstated my membership in Toastmasters Club, I didn’t receive any magazine. A few months later, the president, YC Ng, helped me to write to Toastmasters International about the incident, and I realized that, they kept my address wrongly. That was why the magazines didn’t reach to my house.
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There are always 30 pages in a Toastmaster magazine. I guess, since it is a monthly magazine, they design it with 30 pages, so that we can read one page every one day.
Similar to Toastmasters Club meetings, every Toastmaster magazine has a theme, which is stated on the cover page itself, with the featured articles being published in the magazine.
Well, today, a relaxing Saturday morning, I sat in front of my table, reading the articles in the magazine, and it triggered a feeling in me – I wanted to write a blog post on any of the articles that I had just read.
So, here is the one that I read. I’m not going to post the whole article, but I’m writing up the summary, together with my thought after reading this article.
Pitching a Message of Hope
– Toastmaster magazine, October 2010 (page 12 ~ 13)
Byron Embry, a black child of a single mother in Richmond, Kentucky, grew up in poverty and had severe stuttering problem. Putting a sentence together and then uttering it aloud was not only excruciating but humiliating, as people quickly lost patience with his slow and often incomprehensible speech. As a result, he endured cruel taunts from others.
During Embry’s childhood, he wanted to be a television weatherman, but his schoolmate told him, “By the time you spit out the words ‘A storm is coming’, people’s house would have already been blown down!” Gradually, he turned inward to avoid further public embarrassment.
Although his mother tried to consult many professional, nothing seemed to help. However, Embry gravitated towards sports, towards baseball.
He perfected his fastball while attending Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa. He enrolled in Professor Enfus McMurray’s freshman speech course, but stopped attending after he failed his first two speeches. Yet, Professor McMurray told him, “You don’t have a speech impediment; you have an excuse.” She told Embry that he would have to attend Toastmasters to pass her class. Embry attended Toastmasters meetings, and eventually the the meetings gave him confidence to finish the course and he graduated.
In 1997, the Atlanta Braves recognized Embry’s pitching talent and signed him right out of college. Ten years into his pitching career, Embry faced a third elbow surgery and began to wonder what life after baseball would look like. By this time, he had married with two daughters.
On afternoon, he saw a poster promoting Toastmasters, he decided to give it a try. Thus, he joined the Pikes Peak club. He was assigned a mentor, and as he gained experience, speaking became second nature. Embry began to seriously contemplate leaving baseball to become a motivational speaker, despite objections from friends and family members. His Toastmasters mentor, Tom Lachocki, says it was a natural transition from successful athlete to successful speaker.
Says Embry: “Baseball gave me the confidence to stand in front of huge crowds. Toastmasters afforded me the confidence to speak to those crowds.”
In 2009, Embry started his company, Closing Remarks. The name originated from his experiences as a “closer”, which is a particular type of relief pitcher.
In the spring of 2009, Embry attended a Toastmasters club as a guest speaker. A member was practicing her speech for the International Speech Contest and Embry instantly realized this was something he wanted to participate in. Entering the contest himself, he subsequently won competitions at the club, area, division and district levels. In August 2009, he found himself standing on the stage of Mashantucket, Connecticut, with nine other finalists in the World Championship of Public Speaking. It was the culmination of a dream born from much encouragement from others.
“Your handicap may just be your greatest assets,” he says. “You have an entire story to tell and no one can tell it quite like you. Toastmasters can give you the tools to tell it effectively and powerfully.”
I was impressed by the two sentences highlighted in red.
“You don’t have a speech impediment; You have an excuse.” Yes, we can do anything if we want to. Handicap is not an excuse for a person to achieve his dreams. Recently, I received a few season cards posted from handicap non-profit organization. The people from the organization are incapable with their hands, and yet, they are able to produce nice paintings using their mouths or legs. If they can do it, why don’t we?
“Your handicap may just be your greatest assets.” Some people work harder because of the difficulties that they face, and because of their hard work, they turn to be more successful in their life. With this situation, eventually, their handicap helps them to be stronger, to be successful in their life.
In addition, below is the link to Closing Remarks, for your reference.
I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.