Excerpt from Uncovering the Divine Within:October 17, 2008
I had an experience that very clearly showed me how I create my experience and exactly how powerful my mind is. I entered a speech competition. I thought I wanted to win and joined a second club with the hopes that doing so would increase my chances of winning. The way the competition works in Toastmasters is that you first compete at the club level against three or four of your fellow club members. There are four or five clubs in an area, so the next level is Area, then Division, and so on, until you reach the International level. In the second club I joined, there was a guy named Ryan who, at eight years old, won a public speaking championship for 4H at the state level, talking about LEGOs. Even before joining the other club, I was a bit intimidated by the guy and viewed him as the one speaker to whom I might lose in competition. Why shouldn’t I be intimidated? At the time of the speech competition, he was about twenty-six and had been a public speaker for about twenty years. Additionally, in the last contest he entered, he went all the way to the District-level competition, which means that of the 3,500 people who entered the competition in the district, he was in the top five.
In preparing for my club competition where I was to compete against him, I concerned myself with two things: I wanted to make an impression on as many people as possible, and I feared that I might lose the contest to Ryan. Sure enough, I did make an impression on many people who attended the competition, and sure enough, I came in second to Ryan. That was okay, though, because I still had the other club that I would be competing in, and even though the club was four times the size of the club I was in with Ryan, I had no fears about winning that one. Sure enough, I placed first in that contest and won the opportunity to compete at the Area level, where I would again compete against Ryan.
In preparing for the Area level competition, the first concern I had was about losing to Ryan, the second was that I was told that a certain judge who would be judging my speech was notorious for not understanding the types of speeches I give. I was concerned that the judge would not “get it,” so I spent hours improving and simplifying my speech in hopes that the judge would understand and not give me a low mark because he didn’t understand the speech. The change, I thought, would then allow me to come in first, ahead of Ryan.
The title of my speech was “Whatever Doesn’t Kill you Only Makes you Stronger.” I talked about how we draw certain experiences to ourselves through our thoughts. I used my three favorite examples: my grandmother, my ballet teacher, and Andy. I explained to the audience that I had the thoughts first and that I drew the experiences to myself in order to provide myself the context to understand what I had been thinking.
I then told them how they could change their thoughts and focus on positive things in order to filter out negative experiences, and thereby draw more positive experiences to themselves. I delivered the speech with poise and purpose; my gestures were right on; my eye contact was perfect. I knew the speech was filled with great content, that it was the best damn speech I had ever delivered.
Afterward, I was getting thumbs up all over, and many people told me that they were affected by my words. Then the Area governor stood up and said, “The person who will represent Area forty eight in the event that the winner can not be present is Kerri Kannan.” What? I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t win.
A few very interesting things happened next. First, Ryan won. The judge I had concerned myself about came up to me and said, “You know, your stories were good, but I just didn’t get it.” Also, a line of people waited to talk to me and tell me what a great impact I made on them with the speech.
It took an hour of feeling sorry for myself before it hit me: I had drawn to myself the exact outcome that I had been focusing on. I thought I was focused on winning because I was thinking about not wanting to lose to Ryan and not wanting that judge to miss the point. The only thing I focused on in the positive was that I wanted to affect as many people as possible, and that happened too.
I tell this story to illustrate two points: First, we do indeed draw to ourselves the exact experiences that we focus our thoughts on, and our minds are very powerful; second, the universe is unbiased and nonjudgmental. It will not negate the energy of our focus. If we focus on what we do not want, we will draw that experience to ourselves. If we focus on what we do want, we will draw that experience to ourselves. We need always to think in the positive. Positive thinking will bring us positive results.