Monday, October 13, 2003

Teh Tarik For the Soul - Risk Taking


This speech was for a short teh tarik session. Executed in no more than 3 minutes 3o seconds. The actual speech varied from this script but the general idea is there. It was well received and insprired some risk taking by the audience.

Actual Speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

When was the last time any of you took a risk? Went out on a limb? Faced your fears and conquered challenges? Today? Yesterday? Last week? Never!?

I do not think the last question is applicable to all of you though. The fact that you are here. In Toastmasters carries a lot weight about how each one of you view challenges… I believe that everyone here has the ability to scare his or her fears away.

You see too often in our lives we become complacent. We stop taking risk. We stop learning. We stop conquering. This is especially true for me as I am becoming older. I have become more comfortable these days. I did not realize how set I have become in my manner until I sat down and spoke to my senior manager at work one day. Now here was a man who was never afraid of challenges. Or so I thought. This was 43-year-old man who just recently celebrated his birthday. He was in the apex of his life. He was a senior manager, primary adviser to the CEO of my company and leads the biggest department in the organization. He was powerful and capable. Not only that, he was a very admirable and personable man. Articulate, funny, self assured and supremely confident. Traits which come with leading a life showered with many successes.

I was really curious though. I wanted to find out what made this man tick. I wanted to know if given the chance, would this successful persona ever change anything in his life. His answer surprised me. No… Actually it downright shocked me. He said “Vijay! If there is one thing I can do differently in my life… that would be to take more risks”.

Among his main disappointment was that he wanted to start off his own firm but did not because entrepreneurial spirit was blasphemy during his time. His parents wanted him to hold down a stable job and because he was scared of new challenges at that time… He did just that… And now despite his success, he feels he is leaning on the wrong ladder of success. His real desire and ambitions were washed away when he decided to play it safe. 20 years down the road and he is stuck. Like a rock wedged permanently in unwanted albeit comfortable surroundings, he is unable to move to where he really wants to be.

Hearing him speak made me wonder and reflect back to the conditions surrounding my life. I find myself sliding into the same curve as he did. Its really scary.

But Ladies and Gentlemen, no more! I am tired of playing it safe. Life is so much more than what you see around you. Can you imagine what it would be like to be someone who is fearless and is not constraint by limits or barriers of the mind? Imagine being someone who can do whatever he sets his mind on. Imagine being someone who is free…

How do you become that someone? Where do you start? You start right here! In toastmasters! It is a place where you can let go of your chains of familiarity and become that someone that you always wanted to be… No fear. No limits. Risky business all the way.

Just remember what [Person below] said:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.- Helen Keller


By, Vijay Balasegaram

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