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Dominate Phase 2

Do you stockpile anything? Almost everyone has some collectables…

Stamps, coins, action figures, sports memorabilia…

How about something that is more than a hobby? Maybe you collect notes for a book you want to write or blog you been meaning to start. Maybe collect research for diet or exercise plans. Maybe you stockpile information on schools or jobs you want to pursue. Maybe you’re a Toastmaster researching a speech topic.

How about underpants? Does anyone here stockpile underpants? The Underpants Gnomes do. Let me introduce them.

These Gnomes live in the quiet town of South Park, Colorado. They sneak into people’s houses in the middle of the night and steal underpants, but they do so with a plan in mind.

They have a three phase business plan to lead them to success. The first phase is to “collect underpants” and the third phase is where they profit, but they have no clue what phase two is or how to get there. Now, a savvy planner can break anything up into a three phase plan. A toastmaster’s speech has an opening, body, and conclusion. Small business research grants are awarded in three phases. But, the plan which the Underpants Gnomes are using is more similar to a three phase plan laid out at by contributor Wendel Clark for Strategic Marketing.

  • Phase 1 is the research, development, and planning phase. This is where you collect underpants. You explore your subject and stockpile all the resources you can get your hands on. If your plan is to lose weight or get in shape, then you could be reading diet or fitness books. If you are preparing to write or give a Toastmaster’s speech, then you’d be researching your subject and looking for ideas.

  • Phase 3 is the production and continuation phase. This is where you profit. You’ve achieved you goal and produced a product which you want to continue to maintain. You’ve reached a healthy lifestyle goal and now you need to maintain it. You’ve completed your Toastmaster’s speech and wish to retain the lessons you have learned.

  • Phase 2 is the implementation and execution phase. This is where the work gets done. Stop eating junk food. Get to the gym. Write and rehearse your speech. Implement your research and execute your plan.

Successful people dominate phase two. You can join those successful people and dominate phase two with three basic principles: take a leap of faith, learn through failure, and never give up.

In the movie, Inception, the character Saito says, “Don't you want to take a leap of faith? Or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone!” Now, that is a bit over the top for our subject today, but the sentiment is there. Do we want to wonder what might have been? Or do we want to test our limits?

I had been a Toastmaster just six months when I entered my first speech contest. Actually, two contests: a humorous speech contest and an impromptu speech contest. I’d only completed 3 speeches in front of an audience at that point. I certainly had not completed my training or my research.

I wasn’t ready.

I just leapt in.

Why? I didn’t do it because I’m a competitive person or thought I could be the best, both of which are in my nature. I did it for the experience. The competition forced me to prepare more intensely, because I didn’t want to embarrass myself with a shoddy attempt. I didn’t want to lose, because I didn’t try hard enough. I believe I can do anything with the right tools and Toastmasters was providing me tools. My competitive side pushed me further. I did want to win. I was just realistic at the start that I might not win this time, but the experience would help me win the next one. Through the experience, I learned what it takes to win. It was the push I needed to get through the rest of the Competent Communicator manual and continue to drive towards Distinguished Toastmaster.

I kept competing, too. Eventually, I started winning at the club, then I found success at the next level, the area contests. Then 5 years after my first contest, I advanced to the District stage for the humorous competition. I had won first place at the club, area, and division for the first time. It was an exhilarating experience to get to that point, crafting a funny speech and perfecting the delivery for maximum amount of laughs. I told myself to just do my best and leave it all on that stage, because I might not ever get back. I didn’t worry about winning, because I just wanted to learn from the experience. That leap of faith to try competing in my first contest put me in Phase 2 to get to work on something that I knew I could be successful with enough time and effort.

By taking a leap of faith, you are putting aside the fact that you do not have 100% knowledge required, but you understand that you’ll pick it up as you go, learning from experience.

You might see a leap of faith as a big risk. Phase 1 is about minimizing the risk by obtaining knowledge, but if you understand risk management, then you know that risk can never fully be eliminated. There will always be unforeseen circumstances.

Getting out of the research and exploration phase is the key to moving ahead. Take a leap of faith with an understanding that some things have to be learned through experience.

The trouble with learning through experience is that it requires you to fail. In Batman Begins, Alfred Pennyworth tells Bruce Wayne, “Why do we fall down? To pick ourselves back up.” Nobody learns anything on an easy successful path. All the greatest of anything have had a hard life and earned their success through many failures and defeats, because the lessons learned from failure are the ones which stick with you. There is an emotional attachment to that experience and a desire not to repeat it. Napoleon Hill was an American author who was one of the earliest producers of personal-success literature. He once said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.” Failure is the best learning tool at your disposal. Take the simple task of learning to ride a bike. You crash and burn a bunch of times while you learn to balance your body. All you need is the resolve to get back up and try again, which leads us to the third concept.

Be a Goonie, because Goonies never say die. Whatever obstacle a Goonie encounters, they find a way over it, around it, or through it. They use all the tricks up their sleeve, too. There will be crushing failures in phase two. Your motivation and confidence will be squashed. You cannot quit if you wish to reach phase three. Instead, take a hint from Wiley Coyote. After getting flattened like a pancake, go back to the drawing board and come back ready to make your next big blunder!

I believe Jason Nesmith of Galaxy Quest said it best: “Never give up. Never surrender.” There will be times when you feel dejected, heartbroken, or lost. [9.3] You just need to remember Fievel Mousekewitz from An American Tail: “Never say ‘Never’.” Never say never to your goals… your hopes… your dreams.

By taking a leap of faith, learning through failure, and never giving up, anyone can dominate phase two of whatever plans they have and find success in reaching phase three. Now, I implore you! Stop collecting underpants! Take on the risk of phase two and get on track to phase three… Profit!



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