As people, we all measure success differently – as stutterer’s, some measure it by their
ability to speak confidently in front of an audience, others by their ability to order the
meal they want themselves. All to often though, we measure success (and thereby
ourselves) by our fluency – and we know how big a trap this can be!
I want to share what I have learnt about measuring success in the past 18 months. Before
then, I didn’t really believe that I would overcome my stutter. So I had spent most of my
adult life proving, mostly to myself, that I could have a successful career in spite of my
speech. And I did OK too – certainly a lot better than I had expected.
But things started to change last year, when I realised (and started to believe) that maybe
I could beat this thing that had defined my life for so long. All of a sudden, the career I
had worked so hard for seemed less important. I put this down to the fact that my
primary source of motivation - to succeed at work in spite of my stutter – was much less
relevant to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I still stuttered and had to work really hard at developing the skills
needed to overcome it, but the change in my belief from “I will never beat this” to “I
really think I can do this” changed more than how I viewed my speech – I had to redefine
how I measured success.
I have since made massive leaps forward in my speech, and my building confidence has
allowed me to do all sorts of things that I would never had dreamed of doing. I have
twice been invited to lecture at a University, I have done a 11/2 phone interview for a
national magazine and a radio interview in front of a live audience, and I have met with
the Chief Minister of the ACT to discuss the lack of Government funded treatment
available to teenagers who stutter. While each of these experiences has provided a
massive boost in my confidence, I do not use any of them as my primary measure of
When I have a bad day or experience with my speech, and I still do have them, I always
come back to one thought – the one thing that I now truly measure my success by. And
that is reading a book to my kids – this simple activity gives me more pleasure and more
of a feeling of “success” than anything else. Not only do I see it as an opportunity to
practice my speech, but I love that I can confidently play a positive role helping my kids
to learn to read – and I can’t think of a better reward for all the hard work I have put into
Dream big and aim high. But when you measure your success, look at the little things in
life. For this is where you will find the things that allow you to drift of to sleep each
night with a smile on your face – regardless of how that meeting with your boss went!
McGuire Graduate (Apr 07)
“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.” W. Clement Stone (1902-2002)