Building Excellence through Cycle of Improvement

Building Excellence through Cycle of Improvement

The story went that Rabbit and Turtle had a race… felt over-confident with an early lead and fell asleep under the cosy tree, and Turtle won the race.  That was the part that everybody heard and everybody knew. But do you know how bad rabbit felt after the race?

Rabbit was the top athlete of the animal world, but he was defeated, disrepute and disgraced. He repented,  learnt from his mistake and challenged turtle for a rematch. This time round, he didn’t stop.  Like Usain Bolt, Rabbit sped all the way, never looked back, never stopped, and all the way to the finish line. Turtle didn’t have a chance

Turtle being forever wise and patient, start to think, think and think, and he thought of a strategy. He invited Rabbit for a rematch. Rabbit ran like a bullet until he reached the river. He couldn’t swim! So all he could only stood there and watch Turtle slowly crawled… and swam and crawled to the finish line. Turtle too learnt from his mistake, improved his edge and has created the first aquathlon in the animal world. And so the saga continues between the two.

You see, excellence requires continuous effort to do better. Like Rabbit and Turtle, they build upon their past experience, learn from mistakes and boost their performance one step at a time.

And you can do it too. Regardless of your goal and destination, there is a tried and tested way to make cycle of improvement.  There are 4 steps –  PLAN, DO, CHECK, ACT

 

Plan

Plan is about knowing what you want, then plan how to get there.

When I first joined Toastmasters Club, Eng Lye told me that I need to plan in advance, because the speech slots got snatched up early. Being a greedy person, I thought, since I paid $218 per year for membership – 2 practices per year means $100 per practice, 4 practices per year means $50 per practice… 8 practices per year means ……$25 per practice! If I make 24 practices per year  then it will be peanuts!!!

So I planned for 1 speech a month, alternate with appointment slots. Book all the way, 6 months in advance. With that I completed my CTM within 1 year.

Is it possible to achieve our goal without planning? It is still possible, but it is leaving things to chance. If I do my speech depending on mood, then I may not have the mood, or when I have the mood but Susi has no slots, or before I have the mood, my wife ask me out for movie. Success becomes then a random affair.

Plan for it if you truly want success. Don’t leave things to chance.

Do

Next step is do.  It is about bringing what is on your mind, and on paper, into the reality.   Just like this paper airplane in my hand, can it be created if no one does the folding? 

Can there be a swimmer, who has never done the swimming? Or  a good trainer who has never done the training?  Or a successful farmer, who has never done the farming?

The turtle carried out his strategy, making it a reality and out-matched Rabbit. He tasted victory.

Likewise, you can also carry out your plan, and achieve success.

Reserving speech slots without actually doing the speech will not bring you anywhere. We need to prepare, rehearse, and deliver the speech. We need to grow from the tears, toil and sweat. We need to overcome the fear by  facing the fear straight on. If there is no doing, there is no progress, and there will be no fruit.

Check

After doing, it will be time to check the results.  What was done right? What was done wrong? Are you on-track? It is we, looking at ourselves in the mirror.

In Toastmasters club, you could receive feedback from evaluator, the feedback form and we can also ask our peers for their comments. 

At work, you can look at the Key Performance Indicators.  You can ask the subject matters experts for opinions. Or you can also ask your boss, customers, participants for feedback. 

There are always ways to find out how well we are doing.

Seek and you will find; ask and you will get; measure and you will know the figure.

Act

After knowing, it is time for action. It will be your choice, of whether you want to make changes to improve, or you want to stay status quo.

In the Toastmasters arena, there are Toastmasters who always speak at the same level of proficiency, repeating the same mistakes. And there are those who take each feedback seriously and you notice progress at each project. It is a personal choice.

If progress is what you want, then identify the problem or the weakness, and set-out to plan for change.  If vocal variety is the issue, practice on the voice – there are many resources out there that teach you how to do it.

The cycle of improvement continues in a PDCA fashion, creating a spiral of progress until you arrive at your destination.

 

Plan-Do-Check-Act is the formula for cycle of improvement which Rabbit and Turtle applied in their competition to great effect. Successful companies like Toyota, Honda and many others use it to improve their performance. And you too, can apply in your personal life, in toastmasters at work to realize success.  Is there a goal that you want to achieve?

Go ahead! Use Plan-Do-Check-Act to help you  build excellence through cycle of improvement

 

AP5: Of Snails and Purple Dye

25 Feb 2012

“Do you smell something burning?”

This question sounded in an empty chemistry lab 150 years ago in 1856.

2 English chemists were trying to find the cure for malaria, one of the world’s most widespread diseases at that time. Hoffman, the older of the 2, was leading the research while his student William Perkin helped out.

 

 

 

William was a chemistry prodigy; he entered university at 15, much earlier than the most of us! Now, he is part of Hoffman’s prestigious team of university researchers, on a breakthrough study that can save the world!

 

[low-pitched, gruff voice] “When something’s burning, it usually means the experiment had FAILED. Clean up while I find out what went wrong.” Hoffman commanded. William thought: “oh man, another test-tube to clean!”

That day’s experiment was a particularly bad failure. As he looked down into the test tube, he saw a disgusting black gooey substance, like mucus from a smoker’s lung, coloured black with tar.

He started rinsing with water, it did not budge. He tried scrubbing but it still did not move! It was as stubborn as super glue!

At last, William gave up and used his teacher’s expensive alcohol. “I really hope this works!” I want to invent the medicine for malaria and save the world, not be stuck here washing test-tubes!

At last, the black thing got smaller when it was washed with alcohol! William was elated as he looked at the alcohol flowing down the drain, it was as bright and brilliantly purple as the freshest violets, and most importantly took some of the black sludge away with it. “Good riddance!”

Hoffman, his teacher came back rubbing his hands “William! finished washing? GOOD!” The 2 of them continued their next experiment, after all Hoffman always says “If you try and fail, try again!”

(move to stage left)

At home that night, William was telling Thomas, his younger brother about the black sludge and purple dye it caused. Thomas immediately piped up [high voice] “I’ve never seen purple so close. Only the King can afford to wear it.” (pause) “William do you think, just think, that we can dye purple cloth from it? Imagine, purple cloth!”

Purple dyes were collected from the mucus of snails at that time, and each snail only had so much mucus. So, only the incredibly rich, like the King, can afford to wear it. Thomas was excited!

To think of all the purple cloth they can make! They can wrap their entire house in purple, not even the King does that! But William said “No, I am finding the cure for malaria, not some sort of colouring! I’m a chemist! I must help the world!” [in Thomas’s high-pitched voice] “But since you already have it, can you please try, please please? It is an opportunity too, why don’t we grab it?”

(pause, freezing in Thomas’s action of hands outstretched)

(move to stage right)

The next day, William went to Mr. Hoffman, telling him about the possibility of making a dye, from the black sludge of yesterday. “No, we are here to cure malaria, I have too much to do to help you. if you want to be silly, do it yourself. But you would have to leave my research team. Choose yours own path.”

(move to stage center)

What should William do? Should he continue with the prestigious research team at the university? Or should he take his chances with the unknown purple substance?

(pause)

3 years and many experiments later, William and Thomas are the proud owners of a dye factory in Scotland, using mauvine to produce purple clothes for the whole of England. Everyone could now wear purple and the poor snails were no longer needed.

When he discovered mauvine, which is the purple dye made from the black sludge, William Henry Perkin was just 18. He went to become an established chemist, but he never discovered the cure for malaria. Instead, he found other dyes, like Britannia Violet and Perkin’s Green. William Perkin directly contributed all the coloured clothes we are wearing today. Because of him, we can have many colourful fabrics, whether cotton or silk, to wear any colour whenever we want. Can you imagine if we still had to use snail mucus and leaves to colour our clothes?

William’s teacher, wanted to leave his impact on the world by persevering on one thing. And he did, although he never discovered the cure for malaria, he is well known for many breakthroughs in his field of research.

William had decisively jumped at something he thought was an opportunity and succeeded in bettering the life of others through chemistry. Hoffman had also led the way in chemistry research.

One of them succeeded with persistence, one with flexibility. Do we want to be William or Mr. Hoffman? But the most important thing is, they both tried and tried. Some people think that ‘fail and try again’ is the secret to success, but trying, failing and trying to make use of that failure may also lead to victory.

In any case, try and fail but don’t fail to try!

Toastmaster of the day.

 

This is a AP5 speech from the Storytelling Manual, Bringing History to Life.

 

Evaluation by Michael Chang

8 min 27 secs

There were two morals of the story,

 

  1. Can try and fail but do not fail to try
  2. We can succeed through persistence like Hoffman or flexibility like William
William was well developed as a character, with a background (chemistry prodigy) but Hoffman could be better characterized.
Effective use of description and dialogue in the story. Vocal variety observed during the dialogues and gestures were natural and appropriate.
A commendable speech. Keep up the good efforts and well done!

 

 

AP3: The Great Leap

 

Yes, all mice leap towards the cheese on the mouse trap. Why do they do that? No one really knows. Maybe this behaviour is instinctual. Maybe it’s culturally conditioned. Among mice, this behaviour is considered normal.

Take for example, the annual “Great Mouse Leap” in Town Mousey where young mice would leap at the rows of mouse traps outside the confectionary near Christmas.

 

Emmy grew up fuss free and carefree. However, as Emmy becomes older, she, like all others, began to feel the strange pull towards the mouse trap.

 

All other mice chattered excitedly about the coming “Great Mice Leap” and many of Emmy’s young friends were even planning to participate this year.

Emmy was troubled. One day, she decided to talk to the wise elder.

“Why do we leap towards to mouse trap?” Emmy asked him.

“What do you mean, why? We are mice. It’s what we are supposed to do, silly.”

“Yes, but what happens after we leap?” she pressed.

“Something good.”

“What?”

“Err… we don’t know,” came the hesitant reply.

“Then how do you know it’s good?” Emmy insisted, noting a hint of doubt in his voice.

“It must be good because no one ever comes back. Now, shut up and go along, young mouse.”

That evening, she was to the very edge of the town and sat there. “What’s wrong with me that I can’t be satisfied with leaping towards the mouse trap like all the others?” she wondered. “Am I weird for asking so many questions, and for wanting something else?”

All of a sudden, she had a new question to ask: “What do you think is on the other side of the confectionary, behind the door?”

She thought hard over it and then she knew what she had to do.

It was night, the evening of the Great Leap. As the moon rose higher into the sky, the town began bursting with energy.

“I’m gonna do a swan dive!” called one mouse.

“I’m gonna do a cannonball!” laughed another.

Emmy followed the young cohort of inspired mice towards the confectionary.

Outside the confectionary, Emmy was in awe. In front of her were rows and rows of mousetraps. Atop them were tantalising looking cheese of all shape and sizes.

She hesitated. (pause)

Taking a deep breath, she calmed her instinct and tiptoed passed the traps. All the rest of the mice stared at her in disbelief. She insisted and braved on.

Finally, she reached the door, entered the confectionary and was treated to the greatest feast she had in her whole life.

A year later, it’s again time of the Great leap. Despite Emmy bringing back lots of cakes and pastries, the elder refused to end ”The Great Leap”, maintaining it was too important to their heritage and their identity as a group So every year, many mice continued to leap to their death.

Still with help from Emmy, many more mice began to ask “why” and to consider their actions.

Have you asked “why” today?

Toastmaster of the day.

 

 

This is an AP3 from the storytelling manual

AP1: What is a Hurricane

14 Jan 2012

We often hear news like ‘Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Ophelia is attacking the shoreline!’. how many people are dead and how many places are flooded.

Every time when I hear this news, the first thought that comes into my mind is: I must do a research, why do Hurricanes has so many different names!

 

 

My dear fellow toastmasters, I am presenting today: what is a hurricane, where do hurricanes take place and how are they named?

 

What is a hurricane?

Hurricane is a huge storm! It can blow for up to 965 kilometres and have strong winds spiralling inward and upward at speeds of 119 to 320 or more kilometres per hour.

Hurricanes gather heat and energy when it passes over warm ocean waters.

Hurricanes rotate counter-clockwise around an “eye.”  It usually happens from 1 June to 30 November and often lasts for over a week.

They are classified into five categories. Category 1 is the smallest, at 119-153 km/hour, however, Category 5 is the greatest one at the speeds of 251 km/hour or up.

 

Where do Hurricanes happen?

Hurricanes form in the Western North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Places like Cuba, Haiti and Florida etc.

You may like to ask how about the Typhoon and Cyclone?  Are they the same as Hurricanes?

Actually they are similar. Different places just use different names. The same storm occurring over the NW Pacific Ocean near places like Philippines, Taiwan is called a typhoon; “Taiwan – Typhoon” ,  Is it easier to remember?

Another one over Australia or the Indian Ocean is called a tropical cyclone, but the winds rotate clockwise.

 

How is a hurricane named?

On the Atlantic Ocean, tropical storms which reach a sustained wind speed of 63 kilometres per hour are given a name, e.i. “Tropical Storm Katrina”.  If that storm’s wind speed increases to 119 kilometres per hour or above, then, the name will change to “Hurricane Katrina”

Last year, in 2011, there were 19 tropical storms took place around the Atlantic Ocean.  e.i. Arlene, Bret, Cindy and so on.

All these names are assigned in advance, in six-year lists by the World Meteorological Organization.  It is reused every six years, and there are only 21 names per year.

The names are given in alphabetical order, but the characters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used.

So, the names in 2005 are the same as 2011.

Also, in odd-numbered years, the first name is female and the second is male. The third name will be female again.

However, in even-numbered years, the first name is male, the second is female. For example in 2012 the first name is Alberto, Beryl, Chris and then Debby. So on and so forth till ‘W’.

What happen, If more than 21 tropical storms took place in one year, what shall we do? We use the Greek Alphabet instead, like Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.

If the hurricane is too drastic and cause serious damages, then that name will be removed and replaced by another name.  For example, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.

So, Katrina was replaced by Katia so that it will not bring back sad memories in the future.      In 2005, there were total 5 names replaced.

 

Hurricane is a natural disaster, we really can’t do much about it, but we can save the planet by cutting less trees, producing less pollution and making less destruction of the environment. In the way, it could help to slow down the global warming.

If one day, when you travel to this areas, especially during 1 June to 30 Nov, there are some things you can do to protect yourself if a hurricane happens.

Stay indoors, basement is the best. Get a disaster supply kit nearby,  don’t forget the flashlights and batteries. Please don’t use your hand phone’s flashlight and make long calls, because you may have no electric supply to charge your hand phone.

Finally, stay calm and relax to welcome the Hurricane.

 

 

 

Evaluation by John Liew, ACS ALB

1. Topic relevant and engaging to the audience

The audience, who live, work and travel in the tropics, were drawn to the topic ‘Hurricane’ which is a kind of tropical storm that affects their daily lives.

2. Speech very informative, educational and interesting

Categories of tropical storm or cyclone.

Definition, characteristics and negative consequences of ‘Hurricane’ and different names in different parts of the world.

Lessons and helpful suggestions to handle situation of tropical storm or ‘Hurricane’.

3. Presentation organized and smooth, complemented by power-point slides and displaying confidence and ease of public speaking.

Recommendations

1.  ‘Typhoon’ would be a more appropriate speech title as it is the name of tropical storm in North-Western Pacific Basin and more familiar to the Asian audience. ‘Hurricane’ is the name of tropical storm in North-Eastern Pacific Basin and Atlantic Basin.

2. More emphasis on the relevance to and measures for the audience  e.g. lying low or take shelter to avoid lightning strike outdoor, be alert to news broadcast when going outdoor or abroad.

3. Do away with certain power-point slides that were (a) unnecessary with details not relevant to the audience, and (b) hardly legible or readable with too small prints. This would have helped to keep the speech within the time allotted.

 

The F1 Ride

 

Wei You, one of our club members whom has several business assignments in Philippines and makes frequent trips to the country recently. He has previously shared with us about his gastronomic experience in Philippines. This time he is going to share another exhilarating experience in Manila.


Long Wait

 

I waited at the backstreet of the customer’s office building, as the front of the building was a main road where cars were not allowed to stop for pickup. The backstreet was not so well-lit. As it was in the evening, the sky was dark; I could not see the hotel car, a black Nissan car. I waited and waited and still the car did not arrive. I saw many cars come, pick up their passengers and speed up, while a few other vehicles, came and parked at the roadside seemingly waiting for someone. In the dark surroundings, I could not read the number plate of the car any further than the car waiting in front of me. Not to forget the glaring headlights from the waiting vehicles, one would even have the problem making out what the car model was. I waited patiently for the next 30 minutes. Finally I saw a car waiting at a distance away move up and Har! It is the hotel car, with the right number plate.

 

Angry Driver

 

I beckoned the car to stop and quickly jumped into the car. The driver was not very friendly this time. He is a man of about my age and he asked me with a smiling face but with a tinge of anger in his tone – “Sir, why are you standing there?  I have been waiting here for 10 minutes” As that was my first time in Manila, hearing about all the kidnapping stories and robberies warning, and feeling frustrated I continued to keep my patience and explained that it was very dark and I could not see his car plate. I was thinking, “ Why he could not drive up to the waiting area and check if his customer was there waiting for him, rather than expecting his customer to check every car that arrived and waiting along the long street. I apologised in order not to antagonize the driver further but deep inside I felt such a weakling.  I wondered if I should have stood firm and told him off.  He explained that he could not wait for long otherwise he would be fined and his salary would be gone. Feeling slightly sorry for the driver, I decided that I was probably right by not throwing up my flare with the rights of a customer – The customer is always right.

 

Money Questions

 

He next asked where I was from. I said, “ Singapore” and the next question that came made me speechless for several seconds.  “Sir, how much are you earning?” “Errr …hmmm…” I mumbled, wondering what to say next. But the driver could not wait for my reply and started guessing, 50,000, 60,000, 70,000 …not sure what to reply, wondering what he was up to … feeling nervous …and also starting to do my mental sums in converting pesos to Singapore dollars using the rate of 1 Singapore dollar to 32 pesos. In the midst of all these confusion, the mentally chaotic me, mysteriously uttered “ehmm”. The driver immediately responded with astonishment – 90,000 pesos a year?!!! “Since when he said 90,000”, I asked myself …but well it is too late then to correct myself, as that would make me lose credibility. For your information, 90,000 pesos is roughly about 2800 Singapore dollars. He stared at me through the rear mirror in seemingly great disbelief.

 

Oops! I must have made the wrong claims. I did not know that he was referring to an annual salary. He probably could not believe a Singaporean who was chauffeured around in hotel taxi (though he probably not know it was paid by the company) only earns 2800 Singapore dollars a YEAR. So in order to keep my driver happy and my journey safe, I decided to make it sound more believable by saying “per month”.

 

“What??? Per month! Sir I only earn 200 pesos a day and that is only 6000 pesos if I drive everyday for a month!” You are earning so much!!!” I have three kids and a wife to support and I am only making so little!!!”

 

Oh No! I regretted making the clarification. I should have stuck to the claim of 2800 Singapore dollars a year. “Oh no… I hope he does not plan to kidnap me.”

 

He then started asking if I was married, who was I staying with and how old I was. Finding out that I was the same age as him, he got even more vocal about his frustrations of life. “There is no future as a driver.” He complained and started to give more and more complaints about his life as a driver and life in Philippines. The intensity of disgruntlement and dissatisfaction about his life started to reinforce the image of a robber ***** kidnapper, driving his victim into a deserted place, rob him and then ask his family member for a sky-high amount of ransom began to form in my mind.

 

Traffic Jam

 

“Bbbbbbaaaaaaa ..…” A car horned loudly and I could almost feel the driver’s anger.

It seemed that my driver has cut into the lane of the other driver. There was more horning, left and right, and soon I realised it was everywhere. There was a traffic jam and that made me regret further for taking his taxi. I should not have asked for a taxi at that rush hour in the first place.  The cars could hardly move. That means that I have to stay longer in the taxi and answer more questions L

 

F1 Driver

 

“Sir, this is a bad traffic jam. But I am not going to let you be late. I felt bad and pressured when I could not send my customer back on time.” Before I could respond, he started swerving in and out to fill whatever gaps he could find on the road. Miraculously, he managed to make several metres of progress amidst the heavy traffic.  He continued to make manoeuvres and at one point he actually cut into the lane of opposite direction. Yeekeess… I saw a car heading towards us …oh no! Instead of slowing down, my driver quickly stepped up his accelerator and charged towards the head-on vehicle. I thought we were going to collide this time! Dying in a car accident in a foreign country on the first visit was not exactly the best form of death. Just when I thought everything was over, my driver swerved back to our lane and cut into the path of a vehicle that was slowing down to fill up the space. Phew! What a narrow escape!

 

My driver then turned and smiled at me gleefully and said “Sir, don’t worry I will be your Schumacher.” In case if you do not know who Schumacher is or rather Michael Schumacher to be exact. He was widely touted as the most successful Formula 1 Racing Driver – an F1 world champion for 7 times! I tried hard to give a smile. The image of a kidnapper started to turn into a suicidal driver. Immediately my hands reached for the safety belts. But I soon realised that not every car has safety belts in the back seats.

 

Home

 

Just when I was wondering how to secure myself in the car, the car started to slow down and then came to a complete stop. I looked around, that was not my hotel!  It did not look familiar. “Sir”, the driver turned and looked at me. At that point, I thought the suicidal driver has decided to point a knife at me. “Sir this is your hotel!” “My hotel, I …”

I wanted to stand firm that time and insisted that that was not my hotel, “Sir, this is the backdoor of your hotel. The main road is too jammed. I have to come by the back.” “My hotel?!” I was too happy to hear that. I thanked him and at the same time took out 200 pesos and gave it to him. That was about 6 dollars. He was stunned and said “Sir, this is not necessary. You do not have to give tips” I insisted and shoved the money to him. He thanked me profusely and a look of gratitude filled his face.

 

To be honest, I gave the tips not because I was thankful that he sent me back in one piece but the thought that he has my name and room number that the hotel had given him earlier on, he could easily locate me. I hope that by sharing some of my wealth, he would not bear a grudge against me which otherwise could result in me to be on his hit list.

 

A Brush with Death

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would not be here speaking to you today if it weren’t for one foot of space [show hand span]. 

About 10 years ago, I had a brush with death.

 

It still sends chills down my spine when I think of it. 

 

While studying in the United States, I decided to spend my summer vacation working as a communications intern for the American Heart Association in Columbus, Ohio. On weekends, I would get into my car and drive the 2 hours to Ada, my college town.

My Ford Taurus car was gleaming white beauty. She purred like a contented cat when I drove her. With her 3.8 litre engine, she could travel at speeds of 130 km/h easily.

One Friday evening, I was making my way back to Ada and looking forward to the weekend. I noticed that there were several road diversions. The highways were closed as summer was the only season where major road construction could take place. I was already running late because I had to complete a report and the road diversions were not going to help.

One of my friends, Justin, was about to celebrate his 18th birthday. We were going to have a scrumptuous meal at Damon’s Ribs, which served succulent, juicy, mouth-watering steaks as big as a dinner plate. They also served milkshakes which had about five scoops of ice-cream in each glass. The milkshake was so thick, it was impossible to use a straw, you had to eat it with a spoon.

As I was driving on the small country road, I began to accelerate, to do my best to make up for lost time. The country road was barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass each other.

As I was thinking about the party that night, I began to slow down as a approached a sharp left turn. I slowed down from 80 kilometres per hour to 70 to 60 [slow]… when suddenly, my car skidded on loose gravel on the road and SWERVED into the left lane and nearly went into a ditch. I jerked the steering wheel to the right, and luckily the car swerved to right again. I had to pull on the wheel with all my strength to avoid the ditch on the right side of the road.

Though it felt like eternity, the next five seconds were like a hellish rollercoaster ride. I saw the world shake from side-to-side in synchronisation with the car’s erratic movement.

I continued to wrestle with the wheel which appeared to moved with a life of it’s own. I finally lost the battle with the steering wheel.

The car went off the road and was flying through the air.

My thoughts were in a blur. [FAST] Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? Am I going to die? What will it be like?

[THUMP] the car landed on the ground hard and the car skidded off the road. The car tires cut a path through the soft earth, cutting two sets of grooves like railroad tracks. It started sliding sideways through the soft earth, the tires cutting twin grooves in the ground like railroad tracks.

Abruptly the car stopped….. for a split second, as it hit some rocks. I felt the whole world spin, as the car turned over and flew through the air yet again. I was the world upside down for all of 2 seconds, before the ground came rushing up at me.

The car had landed on its roof.

This is it, I thought, the weight of the car will be too much for the roof to bear, and it will crumple and collapse and I will die. The whole car will land on top of me and I will end up as a bloody, mangled mess.

I saw cracks appear on my windshield, and they spread like lightning across the windshield. I hear the doors start to creak and begin to crumple.

As the whole world around me start to collapse, there I was still suspended in mid air, upside down, suspended by my seat belt.

I closed my eyes and shouted “Please God, if I have to die, make it painless. I don’t want to suffer. I want to die quickly.”

Everything stopped.

Had I died? I couldn’t feel any sensation in my body at all. Was I in heaven?

I opened my eyes.

I was alive!

I was breathing!

All around me was carnage

There was shattered glass sprayed all over the car interior.

I released my seat belt, collapsing on the roof of the car.

As I pulled on the door handle, the door refused to open.

The door frame had crumpled and would never open.

I slowly crawled out of the car window and as I smelled the grass in front of me, I never realised that grass could smell that sweet.

I crawled about 5 metres away from my car and lay on my back, closed my eyes.

I was shaken some time later, by a female police officer.

“Are you all right?” she said, looking at me.

“I guess so. I hit my head pretty hard. I seem to be in one piece”

“It’s good you were wearing your seat belt. Someone must have listening to your prayer today.”

“Do you see that big, thick telephone pole next to your car?”

I looked, nodding.

“If the car skidded one foot more, it would have gone right through your car. [pause] You are a very lucky man”

I looked at her and nodded.

[SLOW] 
I will always remember.[PAUSE]

I am alive because of one foot of space.

Manual : Story Telling (AP2 – Let’s get personal) 
Speech Objectives : 
* Learn the elements of a good story 
* To create and tell an original story based on a personal experience 
Time: 6-8 mins

Note: This is an Advanced Project Speech Presented by CTM Andrew Wee on 26th July 2003 at TRL Toastmasters Club.

Andrew was the best prepared speech speaker for the day