It was a meeting filled with many wonders last Tuesday, which started as soon as TM Amran Jamaluddin took to the stage as the Sergeant at Arms. If you’re wondering why, it was to give TM Macalister Mak, our appointed Sergeant at Arms, the opportunity to be the Toastmaster of the Evening!
Genevieve Lai, DTM, stood proud as she asked everyone to prepare for the ‘Questions’ she would ask as Table Topics Master. The Table Topics evaluator, TM Gerald Goh, wowed the crowd when he came prepared with an evaluation sheet – no question that he was keen to carry out his role stupendously well!
In fact, every Toastmaster strives to perform their duties to the best of their ability. Thus why TM Macalister deeply regretted not listening to his instincts to check the agenda he prepared for errors. “Listen to your guts”, he shared his Thought for the Day.
That and his apology for his spelling errors unraveled who our ‘mystery’ Grammarian was. As Grammarian, Pranika Lama, ACB, ALB, presented ‘Imagery’ as her Rhetoric for the Day. Imageries are composed of descriptive, vivid words which paint a picture in the mind of the listener. She coupled it well with her Word of the Day, ‘mellifluous’ – a word meaning ‘pleasing, smooth and musical to the ear’. For sentences that do not flow as well, the Ah Counter and Who Said What, TM Haryati, would be on the lookout.
“Time is money”, said our Timer and Tip, TM Futoshi. Surely, TM Pooja Shivanand would have a wonderful time evaluating our superb line of role players as the General Evaluator!
Before that, it was time for our prepared speeches. Last Tuesday night marked TM Syatrah’s first step in her Toastmasters journey with Brunei Speaker’s Club. She began her CC1 speech, ‘Introduction’, with a pronunciation lesson.
“It’s like ‘Shut Up’, but you swap ‘Up’ with ‘Rah’.”
If you have mispronounced her name, don’t feel too guilty. Her family had done the same! She was at times Sastera, which means literature in Malay, and others, Satria, which means warrior. But most times, she was whatever similar sounding name that did not sound like anyone else’s name.
Although the name had given her some hard time, her parents loved it. So much that they would then name her siblings Syatir and Syatri. Her grandparents had to beg her parents to give her youngest sister a more ‘normal’ name. “It would be nice to have a grandchild whose name we won’t mispronounce.”
Syatrah’s parents were infatuated with her name, but they were even more obsessed for her safety. They would not think anything of checking her phone. It was only when she was about to study abroad, and she revealed her dream to be free, that they finally let her be.
Syatrah is now free to do what she loves: go to concerts, travel and eat food! She loves food so much that she would marry a chef for it! Ideal chicken is the best chicken in town (to her) and she couldn’t get over how close she was to finding out its secret recipe! She made a small plea, “if anyone knows the number of an Ideal owner, please can you let me know because I need closure”.
We faced TM Rahul Breh wide-eyed as he attempted to close the last chapter in his Competent Communicator journey with his CC10 speech. ‘Think Long Term’ was his title and his advice. He started by asking those present if they have ever been in conflict with colleagues, managers or friends. 10 years back, he was.
Rahul was a dedicated worker who would work twice as long as his colleagues. He had once slept in the office, went out to buy a new shirt and immediately came back to carry on working! Unfortunately, his manager was biased against him and wrote off his dedication as inefficiency. This made his (and everyone else’s) blood boil! However, he remained undeterred. If he were to think short-term, he would have quit. Yet, he carried on doing his job the way he believed it should be done. Now, he is reaping the rewards of his hard work.
He drew comparisons with big companies like Toyota, Pixar and Disney. When Toyota placed their focus on success, they rushed their car production. Because of this, they missed a fault in the brakes and had to call back about 9 million cars! Conversely, Pixar has made many successful movies. The secret to their success was that they would always analyse their movies screen-by-screen after receiving reviews. They gathered data to learn what worked and what did not.
“Focus on learning instead of winning. Focus on data instead of opinion.”
Wise words from a very wise man!
Allen Ang, ACS, ALB, is a man with a fear of water. Ever since he was a boy, his grandmother would urge the family to prevent him from being near water. Feng Shui had said that water will take his life away! Despite this, he managed to complete his BOSIET (basic offshore safety induction and emergency training). In his ACG5, ‘Getting my BOSIET’, he told us his story.
“Don’t swim. Don’t tell them you can swim. Don’t try to swim.”
Those were the advice he received from a friend on BOSIET. The training began with a swimming trial, in which he walked across the pool. Once that was done, the candidates were given different coloured swimming caps to wear. He was given a red cap to indicate to trainers that they need to look out for him. The better swimmers were given yellow caps.
He then described with vivid detail the helicopter escape simulation that he had to go through. He had to sit next to the window of a submerged helicopter and escape! There were different variations of the test. In some, he simply needed to wait until the helicopter was completely submerged before escaping. In others, he needed to do so with the help of EBS (Emergency Breathing Systems).
The last task was the most challenging. He had to escape from a capsized helicopter! As he was swimming for dear life, he felt someone grabbing his leg. He looked down to see a fellow yellow capped swimmer. He managed an annoyed thought of “you’re the better swimmer” before he kicked him away and carried on swimming.
“It’s not about how well you can swim. It’s about how much you want to survive.”
That was what the experience has taught him. We can be rest assured that if water ever tries to take Allen’s life away, he won’t let it! Good attitude!
“A bad attitude in life is like a flat tire. If you don’t change it, you won’t go anywhere.”
That was the first question posed at the Table Topics session. TM Supatra Lee reminded us of the old adage, ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch’. People who are disrespectful to the elderly, bossy and a know-it-all would often be avoided in social situations as they can ruin our mood. A bad attitude can therefore cost you many opportunities.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
TM Amran Jamaluddin believed that there is always a reason to whatever that has happened. There is nothing wrong with crying over it. However, it is also important to be proud of what you have done. Be proud that you’ve done your best, put on a smile and try again.
“Sometimes the question is complicated, but the answer is simple.”
“But isn’t that just life?” Nothing too complicated has occurred in TM Faiz’s life. In fact, he thinks that life is simple and it is people who make it complicated. He advised for all who are lost to stop, take a deep breath, smell the roses and ask for help.
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Ruey Chong Narcis, ACB, ALB, does not look, think or act like a local. Yet, she is local. She grew up being placed where she did not fit in. She was part of an academically-gifted class, though she did not feel as smart. She was only able to perform well in exams because she was better at handling stress. The working culture of ‘yes, boss’ did not fare well with her personal work ethics either. It would be easier to conform and try to fit in. However, there are times when she would prefer to be true to herself.
Well said, and congratulations on winning the Best Table Topics ribbon, Ruey!
Another ribbon winner (and typo victim) was Farhan Jafar Ali, CC, CL. Well done on your speech evaluation and congratulations on your first Best Evaluator ribbon!
The meeting last Tuesday was filled with many inspirations. Sometimes, it’s not about how well you can do a task, but how badly you want to get to where it will take you. If you want to achieve your own personal goals, you need to change your mind set to focus on long-term learning. Stand out with the best attitude. When failure hits you, cry then try again. Achieving success can seem complicated, but it really is that simple.
TM Rahmat Tarsat
TM Gerald Goh / Reuben Chin, ACS, ALB