Why should you be a leader?
The first thing that came to my mind was “why is the question so easy?” Why should I be a leader? Why not? I would have wanted to say that. But it would have been the worst speech introduction ever.
After I heard the question, I took a deep breath trying to buy time to construct my answer. It was the longest 30 seconds of my life thinking hard about something.
Am I even a leader? Why should I be a leader? Really? Come on! Why is my brain not working? That is a very easy question. I have lots of stories to share about the topic. But where art thou? Brain, why have you forsaken me? Where are you when I need you the most?
In silence, I faced the blank faces of the audience. They looked more nervous than I was. They looked worried. The silence in the room was deafening.
Before we started, one contestant told me “You look so worried? You’re making me worry as well!”
I wasn’t shocked. My boss told me that a few times already.
“Oh! I’m not worried,” I said to him.
Whenever I try to balance between focusing and relaxing, my face would look worried. See my photo? That’s the face of me focusing while trying to relax. It’s just my charm!
It was my first time to experience as an Impromptu Speech Contestant in the District Level (national level). I have never expected it to be that full of fun and learning.
Just like the bloopers in movies, the blooper we experienced was hilarious. While we were escorted to the holding area, we found out that we could see the first contestant on the TV. So, we went out to find another place, only to find that there were amplifiers installed all over the area. We could hear clearly the first contestant talking. So, we all freaked out running towards the registration area. We covered our ears while making noises like kids trying to avoid listening to adult conversations. Some were saying “integrity, integrity, integrity!”
Finally, we found ourselves in a messy kitchen-looking room where waiters were busy with their work. Leftovers were all over the place. Psychedelic piles of unwashed plates were everywhere. Chairs were piled up in the corners. The workers must have felt invaded by adults acting like kids.
The blooper was not only hilarious, it also loosened up the competitive atmosphere in the room. During the first few minutes of our meeting, I could feel the tension in our handshakes. I thought we were victors from The Hunger Games.
In a short span of time, before we were all called back to the stage to pick another question, which was “why should you be a leader,” we were able to share our sentiments as contestants. What have we gotten ourselves into?
I came to realize that many people still care about integrity. They didn’t want to take advantage of cheating. Though the first contestant was quite unfortunate that he had to deliver two speeches, it was also advantageous to him. He had a chance to practice on stage before his final speech.
Regardless of age or experience, people still get nervous. I felt a great relief when I learned that from fellow contestants.
They were all smart and witty. I could tell from how smoothly they connected with each other and how fluently they exchanged ideas in the holding area. I somehow got intimidated. But consciously at the moment, I stopped myself from entertaining any put-down thoughts. Instead, I recalled in my mind the reassuring words from my supporters.
“You are here for a purpose, which is to share a message for the audience. With that, you should be grateful about yourself.”
“You are on stage in front of the delegates from all over the Philippines. Not all people get that chance. But you were given this chance because you did something brave.”
“You won in the area and division levels first before you came here. It means that you are already a winner.”
“With or without a trophy, you are still our champion. Win or lose, you are loved.” – this is my most favorite from my most favorite supporter in the world!
I did not bring home any trophy but I felt like a winner. I had all the reasons to back out at the last minute. My flight was delayed. I arrived at the hotel at 3 in the morning. Then, the receptionist told me to wait at the lobby because the room was not yet fixed. And I waited for 3 hours. I only had 2 hours of sleep. My back hurt. My head hurt. My stomach was malfunctioning. I took some medicine but nothing was working. Worst of all, I miss my wife!
See! I’ve got plenty of reasons to back out. But I didn’t. If I backed out, I would have missed a lot from the experience.
So, again, why should I be a leader? This question is going to haunt me forever…