Training with a Broken Hand

Yesterday. A walk with a Toastmasters friend. Among other things, we discussed how different Toastmasters meetings are these days. Due to the pandemic, club meetings are held online instead of face-to-face.

“I joined Toastmasters to overcome my nervousness from speaking in public”, she told me. “But speaking online really does not do the trick for me.”

She’s right. If public speaking were a competitive sport, training it in online meetings would be like training martial arts with a broken hand.

…but who said there’s something wrong with that?

Not only top performers do train when injured. The limits caused by their injury often give them new perspective.

“I have heard quite a few NFL quarterbacks who had minor injuries and were forced to sit out a game or two, speak of the injury as a valuable opportunity to concentrate on the mental side of their games.”

Josh Waitzkin: The Art of Learning

Waitzkin himself drastically improved his left hand’s fighting ability (as well as chopsticks use) when preparing for the Tai Chi Push Hands national championship with his right hand broken. He used adversity to get better at his martial art.

“In my martial arts life, every time I tweak my body, well-intended people like my mother suggest I take a few weeks off training. What they don’t realize is that if I were to stop training whenever something hurt, I would spend my whole year on the couch.”

Josh Waitzkin: The Art of Learning

Presenting over Zoom does not give the same kicks as speaking in front of a group. The socializing online sucks compared to hanging out in a pub after a meeting or a conference. And after eight or more hours of day-job in front of a screen, it’s damn tiring to add another two with Toastmasters Online.

The huge drop in global membership numbers confirms: Many choose the couch.

But those who persist – those who will use adversity as a fuel to hone their craft and explore it from new angles – when we’re back in the meeting rooms, auditoriums and conference halls – they will be the ones to reap the benefits of uninterrupted training.

Would you like to be one of them?

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