Things you didn’t Do

Posted: February 8, 2016 in book launches, FAMILY, Speeches, Toastmasters
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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Speaking in public, so they say, is the number one fear, surpassing even that of death, for some people. I tried to avoid speaking duties for the first 50 years of my life. In that time, I got roped into giving speeches twice and both times failed miserably.

John Stumpf0002

Wells, Fargo & Co, CEO, John Stumpf, said his intense fear of public speaking nearly derailed his career. His boss, picking up on that fear, said, ‘You’ve got to fix this. If you can’t, that’s a career disabler.’ Stumpf joined Toastmasters in the eighties. “The feedback I received on my speeches wasn’t always feedback I enjoyed getting. But it was real stuff. It was a life-changing experience for me.”

He said in an interview. “Toastmasters was the vehicle that saved me.”

Last year, in a bid to face my insane fear of public speaking, I joined Toastmasters, too. All I wanted to do was to be able to give a speech at the launch of my first book, without looking like a complete idiot.

By the end of 2015, I had given four speeches, one of them being a ten minute oration at the launch of my novel in September. I know for a fact, that I could never have nailed my speech, not even a two minute one, without flubbing it, if it hadn’t been for Toastmasters. So, I can testify to the fact that the system works.


Once Christmas had passed, however, I thought perhaps that would be where Toastmasters and I would part ways. After all, who are we kidding, it’s hard!

Yet, I went along to my first meeting of 2016 this week. Something about the friendships, and that unparalleled opportunity for growth that Toastmasters represents called me back. How can you not admire a group of people who are all in the same boat as you, tackling this really intimidating, unfailing challenge of public speaking? These are extraordinary people. And, there’s something thrilling about being around extraordinary people.

None of which makes it any less nerve-wracking. Talk about ‘starting off with a bang.’ I was the honourable ‘Toastmaster,’ and therefore had to run the meeting. I could hardly remember the protocol! Yet, that is the nature of the beast, to be put-on-the-spot and expected to deliver. Just as in the “Table Topics,” when you may get called upon at any moment, to speak for a minute on the topic-du-jour, there’s ever a sense of the possibility of being tested—that prickle of challenge—is always in the air.

Paulo Vasconcelos

Paulo Vasconcelos told a story in the December issue of Toastmaster magazine, that after traditionally avoiding every chance to speak in public, he’d spoken spontaneously at his son’s seventh birthday party. “To everybody’s astonishment, including my own, I spoke fluently and inspirationally about the importance of frequent family gatherings. But best of all,” Paulo said, “I saw my son’s proud face staring at me like never before.”

I knew exactly what he meant. I had the same experience at my book launch, when all three of my sons watched me with pride. It was a great moment and memory.

Nat speaks

Is it scary to have to face your fear each week? Yes. This is the thing; if we don’t tackle the fear, it’s going to feel the same, we have to feel the fear a little bit – in “safe” settings – in order to grow. So, I keep stumbling forwards with this self-development tool. How long will I continue? I don’t know. For now, it helps me to do this thing that I didn’t do.

I’m preparing towards the next speech. I’ll give #5 in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

Have you ever thought of joining Toastmasters, or doing the things you don’t do? How do you tackle your fears?



Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol


Life should not be comfortable; it isn’t to a person’s advantage to have it so.  Nor should art.  Never have the masterpieces of life or art been pleasant or easy.  They are always rugged peaks to be ascended by the few. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis


Each moment we’re given is a building block, a stepping stone, an open door, toward greater self awareness and cultivation of our individual abilities. ~ Gigi Sosnoski



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  1. I think occasionally about it after seeing Lynn and your success stories, but haven’t found time yet. Go, you! I’m so proud of all you’ve achieved with Toastmasters!

    Liked by 2 people

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, my friend. Actually, every minute, I think I might pull out because it’s so daunting. Then, you put another speech behind you, and honestly, the satisfaction is overwhelming that it blows you away. Hard graft with great rewards. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Authors – Is the thought of Public Speaking stopping you from promoting your books to live audiences?
    Read what Yvette did to overcome her fears 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks for re-blogging, Chris! I appreciate it. 🙂
      How are you re public speaking? I had persuaded myself I could be an author without speaking to crowds. Can’t everything be done online, these days? But when it became clear that my book would be ready to publish in 2015, I realized I had to have a physical launch. No way was I going to put out my first book after all those years and not represent myself with a talk. The journey began. Within weeks of the launch, two different friends who are teachers asked me, would I consider going along to speak to their class? Prior to Toastmasters, I would have been stricken with fear, and unable to comply. So you see, it serves an author in more ways than one! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d rather the earth opened up and swallowed me. o_O

    Liked by 2 people

    • yvettecarol says:

      Ha ha! I know how you feel. 🙂
      For many years, if the subject ever came up, I’d repeat a stock quote by the author of Blackhawk Down, Mark Bowden. Upon being asked if he would give a speech, he replied, “I’d rather be shot.” I still feel that way!!
      But, at the same time, I gave the speech of a lifetime at my book launch, and there you have the payoff!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do agree sometimes magic happens. I’m always surprised I don’t stutter when I talk to a new person. That’s huge for me and when I know my subject well and am passionate about it, I can actually get through the ‘talking’ with everyone looking at me. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • yvettecarol says:

        It definitely helps me, too, if it’s a subject I care about.
        The talk I’m giving next week is one of those for me. I’m preparing a speech about listening to your gut instinct. I wrote a blog post about the topic here, just recently. I want to attempt to give a speech with the same message, mostly because it’s saved my bacon in the past and I want to pass it on, in the hope that it will serve someone else. 🙂


      • Sounds a entrancing. I promise I’ll be quiet–the one at the back of the hall–I won’t make any noise. Bravo. 🙂


      • It was supposed to be. You merely stepped up to the occasion. Bravo. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • yvettecarol says:

        Yes, thank you. 🙂
        Everyone knows how difficult it is to join an association like this, yet, I can get out of it whenever I choose. Only yesterday, I went to lunch with my sister. She expressed surprise that I’m continuing with TM this year. She said, and I quote, ‘Why don’t you just leave?’ To me, the fact that none of these things I’m learning are my strong points, or come easy, is the very reason I should stay.


      • Gut feeling again or you just enjoy every accomplishment. Kudos to you.

        Liked by 1 person

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