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Fear of Regrets

Recently I took part in a humorous speech contest at my toastmasters club. Fear of Regrets

Humorous speech is really tough, can you imagine having to make people for 5 to 7 minutes but still having to have deliver something that is not just a sequence of jokes.

Being funny is difficult, being lazy I never really put in as much effort during this contest as much as I did for the other contest. On top of that, I had not delivered speeches for quite something, I felt a bit rusty.

My aim was simple: As long as there were laughter, I would be satisfied.

Fast forward to day of the contest, the next contestant is: Shaun Li, the title of his speech is “Life is…..”, “Life is ….”, Shaun Li.

I started speaking:

Soon I delivered my first punchline…., no laughter, I told myself, never give up, never fall out. I delivered my second punchline……. “Haha”…The audience laughed!!!

It is quite an irony, isn’t it? In life, we hate being laughed at. But in a humorous speech, we crave, and we beg for people to laugh at us. If they don’t, we feel naked, and awkward.

But when they do laugh, its like adding fuel to fire, encouraging us to continue.

At the end of my speech, I sighed a breath of relief as I sat down, I told my neighbor: “At least people laughed at my speech.”

She smiled: “Of course, you did great!”

In fact, I think I did better than I expected, I created more laughter than I did in the previous contests.

Finally, it was time for the results announcement. The second runner up is……..(my name wasn’t mentioned), the first runner up is……..(It was someone else), the Champion goes to……!(I knew it wasn’t me, the best performer was ahead of the pack by miles.)

I knew I didn’t deserve to get placed: I did not work as hard. I took a break from speaking which meant that I wasn’t as sharp.

That being said I had the following thoughts: “What if I had worked harder?” What if I had spoken more consistently?” “What if I had stayed sharp?”

The “What Ifs” represents the regret.

Have you ever been plagued by the “What Ifs” questions in your life?

Have you felt regretful for either not doing something or doing something wrong?

What do you do when that happens?

Through chance, I recalled that I had received an invitation to attend a speech contest at one of my favorite clubs, Changi Simei Toastmasters Club.

I had always considered joining this club as my secondary club to reinforce my basic skills. But I got complacent after I won a couple of contests, and I dropped the idea.

Looking at the invitation gave me an idea: “What if I don’t need to wait for another year to wipe away my regrets, what if I can do it right away?”

I called the club president, thankfully he welcomed me, I joined the club and registered for the contest.

The contest was 1 week away, I made amendments to the speech, and I rehearsed frequently.

The day of the contest arrived: I spoken at arena that had about 400 people but in a room with 40 people. Cold sweat flowed. “What if the members don’t like me?” “What if they don’t laugh?” But I recalled the pain of regrets that I got after the previous contest. I told myself: ” No room for regrets.”

Contest started, and I delivered my speech.

It was finally time for the results announcements: I was……not placed.

Once again I lost but I felt very peaceful. I did my very best. There is no room for regret. It simply meant that I didn’t match up. I can only work harder, and sharpen myself. The best thing with with having 2 clubs, means that I have 2 times the opportunities to speak, 2 times the opportunities to sharpen myself, 2 times the opportunities to learn and contribute!

Everything happens for a reason, regrets happens too. When it does feel it, fear it, let it motivate you to do something about it. For me in this case, the pain of regrets, the fear of such regrets happening again, motivated me to join Changi Simei Toastmasters Club, to join the contest, to work hard, to stay sharp and to continue my pursuits of excellence. While I may have lost the contest, I defeated regret, and I am at peace with myself. My friends, if there is one thing you fear, fear regret, and you will never regret it.

Shaun

Your fellow human being:)

Fear of being Stretched

Are you in a race for success? fear of being stretched

In the race for success, have you had moments where you felt stretched and feel as if you can’t sustain the pace, and feel like giving up.

For me this one week feels like a stretch, career wise I kick started a key project, relationship wise I am heading for a critical juncture, in my toastmasters journey, I am about to take part in the highest level of contest I have been ever been to, blog-wise “Live! With Fear” is getting good reception, and I wonder if I can continue to generate such good articles, fitness wise I have maintained it well, but I need to attempt and pass my physical fitness test by Tuesday, 7 May 2013.

I am afraid.

I am afraid that I cannot hold my ground in the “all out assault” on all aspects of my life.

I am afraid that I cannot hold myself to high standards.

Have that ever happened to you? What did you do?

Recently, my girlfriend asked me: “Shaun, what if this sweet and loving feeling we have right now is just a phase? What if this phase passes.?”

I thought for a while, and I answered:……….

Before I share with you the answer, allow me to share with you another story.

Yesterday, I took the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT). IPPT is the recurring nightmare that plagues all able bodied Singaporean men that will only end once they hit 40 years old. Why do I say that? As long as you are an able bodied Singaporean, and is part of Singapore Armed Forces, in active or reserve capacity, you have to pass this fitness test every year.

Sounds simple right? All you need to maintain your fitness and take the test, and pass it right? Not if you include overtime at work, family time, dating with girlfriend, gathering with friends, toastmasters engagement, and blog writing even! Where do you have time for fitness training?

To overcome this problem, I developed a theory if I exercise at least 15 minutes a day in the morning everyday, it will work. Afterall, that will work out to 1.5 hours of exercise each week! Since February 2011, I have been switching between static exercise (push ups, sits ups, squats, pull ups) and 2.4 km run on each alternate day.

Still my passing record in the past 2 years have been dismal, and the culprit is always standing board jump (SBJ). This how it works, the jumper stands at a line marked on the ground with the feet slightly apart. The jumper takes off and lands using both feet, swinging the arms and bending the knees to provide forward drive.

Yesterday, I had the “fortune” of attempting SBJ as my first station. I told myself: “Sigh if I fail this station, I will fail all the test but I will still have to complete the full series of test” I took a deep breath, I told myself to relax, and remember the training that I have undergone. I bent my knees to 90 degrees, swung my arms, and as my hands reached the end of the swing, I lifted my legs up to the knees, I was in the air, and it felt good!

I looked at the score: 2.12 m. I have passed!!!

This has provided me much motivation, I breezed through the rest of the static stations: 8 pull ups, 38 sit ups and completing the shuttle run at 10.3 second. Top scores, all of them!

Finally, I have come to the last station, the 2.4 km run. My heart starting beating rapidly, partly due to the earlier exertions, but mainly due to anxiousness. I was thinking: “What if I can’t continue this magnificent form into the run? What if I fail the run?”

At that moment, I remembered the lessons that I learnt from my recent speech contest. If there was ever a moment, for all my efforts to show up the moment is NOW! I remembered the pain of waking up 15 minutes every morning, the pain of working my body through the routines. Don’t get me wrong, I love the exercises, but overcoming the inertia is painful. I asked myself: “Is this pain and discipline showing all for naught? If there is a moment for the pain, effort and discipline to show, the moment is now!!!

My turn to run came, I jogged on the spot, when the test conductor went “GO!”, I ran.

As I ran, I told myself: “Run at your own pace, you can do it!”

First 3 rounds was quite a breeze, i completed them under 6 minutes, passing mark is 13 minutes, I am making good progress.

By the fourth round, the legs started feeling heavy, the 4 pm sun is starting to make its presence felt, my heart was pounding hard against the chest, breathing started getting painful, my panting starts getting heavier. With great difficulty, I cleared the fourth run.

At this point, I saw people walking, and chatting as they make their way out of the camp, it felt like a great place to be. I wanted to slow down. I caught myself: “You are almost there, 2 more rounds to go!”

I started looking in front, I looked for someone to pace, my goal became to maintain my distance from the designated runner. I focused on each step that I made, I focused on the fact that every step I make gets me closer to the goal.

As they say, the final leg of the race is hardest, as I reached the last 200 meters, every cell of my body screamed for me to STOP! I had to ignore it, I did it by roaring louder than my body! “ARRRGGGHHHHH!!!” I roared as dashed through the finishing line. 12 min, 7 Sec, silver standard!

The lesson i learnt from this run is this, in life we are going to encounter challenges, the only way to deal with them, is to apply ourselves diligently, focus on doing one thing at a time, and to have faith in the efforts that we have put in.

Back to the question that my girlfriend asked: “Shaun, what if this sweet and loving feeling we have right now is just a phase? What if this phase passes?”

This is what I told her: “I can’t predict what will happened to us in the future. But what I do know is this: I will continue to do what I do right now, or even better. I will do it even though I may feel, moody, tired or busy with work. I believe a relationship is like physical fitness, it got to be maintained by training in a discipline manner. If I spend quality time with you now, I will continue to spend quality time with you in the future. If I listen to you now, I will continue to listen to you in the future. If I perform acts of services to you now, I will continue to do that in the future. If I love you now, I will continue to love you. There are many things that will happen which I can’t predict all of them, I can only do one thing at a time.”

My girlfriend smiled and held my hands tighter.

Ladies and gentlemen, many things is happening around us, and we might be handling many tasks. It might feel like a stretch, and you might want to just give up. Which is great! Because to be in the position to be able to handle many tasks means that you are capable, competent and strong person. Just like how I won’t be able to pull off an assault on so many fronts if I was strong to begin with. Just remember that you are strong, have faith in the strength, have faith in the training and discipline that gave you that strength to begin with, and focus on making ONE STEP AT A TIME. As they say, people are like rubber band, if we stretch the rubber band, the rubber band becomes larger, and if we stretch ourselves, the end result is that we grow! Happy stretching!

Shaun

Your fellow human being:)

www.livewithfear.com