And the winner is…
I sat with an expectation with 5 others who had competed with me to get an opportunity to deliver a speech at the National Level Speech Contest at the Toastmasters Conference, which was supposed to happen in the month of May 2014.
And the winner is… Vipul Mehta!!
The room was filled with loud clapping noise as my name was announced. I stood up and walked towards the stage with a smile on my face and confidence in my belly. It was a proud moment for me to collect the award for the best speaker at the speech contest which happened 1 month before the national finals.
The International Speech Contest: It was the yearly Toastmasters International Conference which was going to happen in May 2014 in Goa. Every year, 8-12 speakers climb from one level to another to compete on that stage. One speaker, the winner at the conference, gets the opportunity to go all the way to the International Level Speech Contest at the International Convention which happens usually in August every year.
The Expectations: I was among the 12 contestants who were competing at the national finals. I had a month to prepare, and since I was one of the 2 speakers from Delhi/NCR region, there were many expectations from me to go all the way and be a winner. I had already gained enough popularity in the Toastmasters community of the NCR region as a result of my previous year’s performance and this one. Expectations do make one a champion in the minds of others.
The Contest: The contest was divided into semi-finals and finals. In the semi-finals, I was competing against 6 other speakers. This was my first time participating in a speech contest of that stature. The pressure of performing was more in the semis because I knew I was already a winner if I could succeed at the semis.
It was the day of the semi finals and I was the fourth speaker. One by one the speakers spoke, delivering their wonderful speeches, myself included.
And the winner is…
I got a third position in the Semi-finals of the National Contest! I was going to speak at the finals! I was a champion in my own eyes. My popularity increased even further!
The Finals: What is the worst that can possibly happen? Nonsense…
That was the message of my speech. That there is nothing worst that can happen. So just try out the things you want to do in life. On that stage in front of 400 people, I presented my dramatic and light-hearted speech on this message. I was the first speaker. Five other speakers came, one after the other, to present their own awesome speeches on their own set of topics.
I didn’t get any award in the finals of the speech contest. I got a lot of appreciation from the audience after the contest. The winner, Aditya, went all the way to Malaysia to participate in the International Speech Contest Finals.
The Fame Trap: As a result of the contest, I had become famous (at a smaller level I must say). People started coming and talking to me. After the contest, I was invited to different Toastmasters clubs to present my speech at their club events. My own club members now considered me to be a good speaker and looked up to me for mentoring and guidance.
All this was very good till it lasted! After a few weeks, everyone’s attention shifted. Everyone got back to their lives. They were now wishing and praying for Aditya’s win. He was the true winner, the true champion. I myself, having heard his speech, was looking forward for him to perform wonderfully at the International Contest.
What just happened? Why was no one taking note of me anymore? I had just delivered a wonderful speech. I was one of the National finalists.
Only after a few months did I realize I was surrounded in what could only be called as The Fame Trap.
The Fame Circle: You perform amazingly well for that one time, everyone’s eyes are on you, you become an Exception for that one time, and you become famous. You are moving in the Fame Circle.
But all that attention is ephemeral since the eyes then shift from you to the real winner. It is as if you are being thrown out of the Fame Circle, there is someone better to replace you. And it does feel bad.
The Fame Circle is a continuous loop in which, as long as you are inside, you are famous. In whichever area you are, Corporate, Management, Sales Person, Film Actor, Public Speaker, Writer, Artist, Entrepreneur, Spiritual Leader and all other areas of expertise and existence; as long as you are exceeding expectations, you are in the fame circle. As long as one is in the Fame Circle, everything follows (the money, the power, the position and all the other ego boosters).
The flipside however is, one has to keep performing better and better to be in the Fame Circle.
As soon as your performance starts to go south (which is inevitable), or the moment someone better comes, you will be replaced from that Fame Circle. The other will take your place and will get all those privileges you were once enjoying. This is the Fame Trap.
The Fame Trap entraps one to that position of fame. The privileges of fame are so great and satisfying that it is really hard to come out of the trap. It is as a result of this people keep on pushing themselves to performing better. While it is good in some sense, it begins to have non-desirable outcomes when one starts taking more pressure and stress in order to be in the Fame Circle. Some may even resort to unlawful means to stay in the Fame Circle. This entraps them even more.
Think-it-over: Change is inevitable. Change in Fame is also inevitable. Today you are in the Fame Circle, tomorrow someone else will be. Of course it hurts to come out of it, especially when one has tasted the sweet candy of the Circle. However, understanding that today or tomorrow, I will be replaced, and acting according to that understanding is the best way forward. One cannot be a Hero forever. If nothing else, Death will always take everything away. Why not keep my head cool during the moments of fame also.
Keeping oneself calm and composed even during moments of fame and living with an understanding that this will also change one fine day, is one great way to a more happy and contented life.