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Benchmark off number 1

Chartered Chatterers Toastmasters clubAs you may know I get up every Wednesday morning before the birds to attend the Chartered Chatterers Toastmasters club where fun and coffee ensues (rarely in that order as I have to have at least some liquid inside me to kick start the humane side of my personality). For those that have never been to a Toastmasters club then the general action goes something like this:
  • 6:50am - turn up at Cigna House (Mercer Street), get free coffee, wake up
  • 6:55am - say hi to the current members (around 15) and welcome to guests - there's almost always a guest
  • 7am - gavel is wielded by the chair(wo)man of the day
  • 7:05-715am-ish - Table Topics
Table Topics is a chance for those not dealing with a 'formal' speech to get up for 2 minutes and give an impromptu speech about anything. Topics dealt with recently have been:
  • You are the host of a new TV show, what is it?
  • What is the book that always travels with you as you move houses?
  • You are part of the recent All Black squad, what do you want to say?
  • ...
In essence they can be about anything and they generally get a few laughs, especially if the newer members are speaking.

On with the schedule ...
  • 7:15am-7:35am: Speeches. Normally two from the Competent Communicator manual (10 speeches to work through with different 'learning points; for each one)
  • 5 minute break for coffee and sometimes muffins
  • 7:40-8am - evaluations.
  • 8am - have brekkie with Adam ... this is just me, not the whole club, the rest probably go off to work ...
I have to admit it's a struggle getting up and being 'on' at this time but I rarely (if ever) have regretted it at 8am.

And the point of this posting ... not really to tell you all about Chartered Chatterers (read all about it on the website) but to give you my thoughts on the best speech I've yet heard in my 6 months of going.

Belinda Colling (Silver Ferns, 2006)It was given by Emma, the current President - all the committee have high fluting titles, mine (yes I am on the committee) is Vice President Sponsorship ... or something, maybe VP Publicity ... I really should know shouldn't I!

Her speech was entitle, Benchmark Off Number 1 and in essence she said (quoted text is straight from her speech kindly lent to me for this posting)
If you want to be successful then you have a responsibility NO an obligation to find out what the reason is, and then replicate it and adjust it to best suit your individual needs.

Last week I was challenged as part of an executive excellence leadership program at the company I work for, to “Benchmark off # 1”. How it was suggested that I achieve this task was to choose someone to benchmark off and contact them!

For Emma she is lucky enough to have a double international in her family that has represented New Zealand in both basketball and, more famously, netball - Belinda Colling (more about Belinda at the official NZ Netball site)

Emma asked seven questions to attempt to identify why Belinda has been so successful with an example being:
Q: What factors do you think were critical to your success?
A: Many factors:
  • Planning & preparation - Confidence due to the knowledge that no stone has been left unturned
  • Self belief - No fear of failure
  • Perspective – good balance, not over anxious, not thinking about consequences – confidence; realising that losing isn’t the be-all-end-all
  • I felt successful when I felt I was performing to the best I could, winning major events, World Champs, Commonwealth Games – achieving the ultimate – being the best in the world
  • Hard Work!

I won't give roll out the full Q&A as sometimes you do have to get up at 6:15am to hear the good stuff in life. However these two points resonated with me:
  • Learn to enjoy your skill & believe in that skill
  • Tap into resources to help you get better
I believe a lot of people (at times I certainly include myself) sometimes miss the first one by miles. And it's the "enjoy" part that I particularly refer to. If you have a skill then enjoying it is the best you can do. If you're working in an environment, position, with people or whatever that is taking that enjoyment away from your skill ("talent") then may I suggest that you change something.

The second point ("tap into resources") is a huge annoyance for me - it's an annoyance because it's so true, the human condition and yet we in the "Western" society are conditioned to the opposite. We are taught at school, university and even in the workplace that we should complete work ourselves, learn to get to the answer by sheer brain power, rely on no-one. This is just plain dumb - we are all in this together and not one person should ever be left out in the cold. It is why I love working with Scrum (an Agile development framework) that have the team as the heart of all development!

I leave you with the final moments of Emma's speech and echo her sentiment about picking up the phone, sending an email or just talking to someone that is "top of the tree" for you. I will be contacting 3 people in the next few days and I'll let you know how it goes ...
They are common sense principles that I or anybody in this room could use to catapult our own successes from and the last thing Belinda said which the pinnacle of the interview was. “Tap into resources to help you get better” and that was exactly what the entire exercise from the leadership course was all about.

I now pass on the challenge and my experience to you, the world is a small place. Who do you want to benchmark off, and what stands in the way of you picking up the phone or switching on the internet or asking your head coach or CEO if they know someone further up the success line.

Successful people don’t mind helping others become successful and what an incredible buzz it was being able to talk to two incredible athletes.

Thank you Emma, cracking stuff.

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