Acceptance is NOT Giving Up!

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Re: Acceptance

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 11 Oct 2009
Time: 17:04:55 -0500
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Alissa, Thanks for your good question. Yes, THE specific turning point was when I won that major speech contest. However, many small things lead up to that point. I joined the National Stuttering Association in 1984 and began talking with lots of other people who stuttered - and had similar experiences as I had. I knew I was not alone. Then I met a guy at an NSA conference (my first in 1986) who challenged us to face our fears every single day. Actively seek them out and conquer them THAT VERY DAY! I thought he was nuts, but he wasn't. That kick in the pants forced me to join Toastmasters in 1988 - scared out of my mind! - but the support I got from them was incredible. I kept getting the little written feedback slips from all of them every week saying that they enjoyed hearing me speak, that I was a good speaker, that I had interesting stories, that they admired me for my courage to face my fears straight on. I honestly thought they were lying through their teeth, but those messages each week really did feel good, lying or not. Drip, drip, drip... Could they possibly be right? Naaahhh... no way... but the drips continued. drip, drip, drip... They elected me as president of the club - the ONLY guy who stuttered in the club was the president! How weird is that? Then the next year I was appointed Area Governor over about five clubs, and the year after that, I was elected Division Governor over about five areas or 25 clubs. I couldn't believe what was happening. ... About that time I attended a "Successful Life" course where I worked at Texas Instruments where we learned the power of attitudes and how you relate to other people. It would take a major paper to explain this course, but coupled with what was happening to me in Toastmasters, my entire mindset was constantly being bombarded with positive messages. The drip, drip, drip, became a garden hose, then a fire hose. ... Even though I was scared to death when I gave my contest speech in front of over 400 very high ranking Toastmasters from all over the world, I really had a blast once I got started. I knew I couldn't possibly win - Hey, I stuttered! - but at least I got a chance to speak at that contest. I felt like a million dollars! And when the winner was announced - and it was ME! - I couldn't believe it. All of a sudden it hit me like a tsunami - I had been WRONG all this time! Those little feedback slips were RIGHT! People DID enjoy hearing me speak. And hey, if they liked it, who am I to complain? It was a total revelation to me. I began to trust OTHER people's judgment of my communication ability, not my own. ... So that's my story in a nutshell. There were years of positive feedback from LOTS of people prior to me winning that amazing contest. ... Advice? Good speech therapy is a wonderful START! Learn what you need to do. Then DO IT. Get into a support group, like an NSA chapter or a Toastmasters club. And LISTEN to other people. Really listen, don't assume they think what YOU think. They probably don't think anything like what you think. Get involved with life and work hard and keep a positive attitude. I know you can't do it on your own. Your therapist can help and so can your support groups. My Successful Life course taught me one quote that I really like: "Life ain't for whining, worrying, and working. Life is for Laughing, Loving, and Living! Dull people lead dull lives. Exciting, enthusiastic people lead happy, successful lives!" I believe that with all my heart. But you gotta take ACTION to get there! .......... How's that, Alissa? Did that answer your question? :)

Last changed: 10/11/09