INDIANAPOLIS — When Ryan Avery set out to win the Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking in 2012, he did so to conquer his fear of public speaking, which behavioral psychologists—and our own anxieties—confirm as a leading fear among people.
Not knowing anything about public speaking, Avery set out to learn everything he could by soliciting help. He practiced long hours and spoke for free in front of audiences to hone his skills. He posted YouTube videos that sought help to make him funnier and improve his vocabulary.
The quest consumed him, and eight months and 30,000 contestants later, Avery stood victorious on the podium.
Avery asked attendees to share their biggest dreams during the opening keynote, “Accelerate Your Achievements,” at the inaugural STN EXPO Indianapolis on Sunday. Predictably, few people were eager to share details.
Most of us have dreams, but few want to verbalize them. Avery said this is because we are often conditioned since childhood to keep goals to ourselves. Think about how often someone has told you to make a wish when blowing out the candles on your birthday cake. They then urge you to not repeat the wish out loud.
Avery said a common belief is that we must keep our dreams a secret in order for them to come true. However, the author of three books on realizing potential said highly successful people are vocal in communicating their goals and clear and concise on their definition of success. This, he added, is because they have put in much time to create and execute a plan.
“Successful people can clearly define what success is. If you can’t define success, you’ll never have it,” he added. “If you are afraid to write down who you know you can be, how can you get your body to do it?”
He shared that when it comes to success, there are two types of people in the world. Most are focused on so many things at once, or competing priorities, that they become overextended and never truly master any of the items on their to-do list. This approach narrows any success they do realize.
However, the other group has a deep desire to be excellent at one thing, upon which they focus all of their attention and determination on that one thing. Their success broadens as a result.
“What is the one thing that will help you do everything? Pick the one you are best at. Don’t focus on everything at once,” he advised. “You can’t achieve what you don’t know, what you can’t see.”
Going after a goal requires confidence. He advised the attendees to eliminate the words “just” and “only” from their vocabularies. These words, he explained, minimize the person, their experience and skills. “No one is going to believe you before you believe in yourself. Words are free but they cost us a lot,” he said.
Avery provided four steps to realizing success. First, you must decide upon the goal. He said too many people live their life without making a choice. Then, design the plan to make that happen. This step includes identifying a champion who has already achieved the goal you are striving for and can provide an example. You also need a coach to help you implement the strategy and to hold you accountable. A cheerleader reminds you of why you are doing what you are doing.
“Do not surround yourself with people who challenge your big dreams, surround yourself with people who challenge you to dream bigger,” he added. “Who is the one person you need to stop hanging out with? Who is one person you need to start hanging out with?”
The next step toward realizing your success is to develop the necessary skill set by dedicating yourself to the task at hand. This requires time and a reallocation of priorities. Many people use to-do lists in their everyday life. Avery asked the attendees how many items on their list are for maintaining their current workload or lifestyle, compared to activities for gaining in life. There needs to be balance between the two, if not favoring gains.
“Break up to-do list into two columns: Maintain and gain,” he said. “Nobody rides a rollercoaster to get to the end. Enjoy the ride. Do not let one thing ruin everything [else].”
The steps, he concluded, help deliver the intended result.
Avery also said there are two types of achievements. One can strive to help others or to fix a problem. This requires knowing who your audience is, identifying the problem and finding a solution. Or one can have a goal to entertain. Avery said to know your message, the method for delivering it (such as writing a book, hosting a podcast, etc.), the market audience and the marketing tools to use to get the message to that audience.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great,” Avery added, quoting the late author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn.