How to become a champion

If you want to be a Champion, you should know that you can’t walk alone. Learn from champions like David Brooks, Mark Brown, and Darren LaCroix who have each won a World Championship of Public Speaking.

What do these World Champions have in common?

They all owe their successes to the mentors who coached them.

“Without seeking help from any teachers, I found myself a finalist in the 1994 World Championships. That August, I gave all I had to give. When the contest was finally over, I had not won a trophy. I was disappointed. But my seven-year-old son, Joel, was devastated. ‘Son, it’s okay,’ I told him.  ‘I did my best. There’s always next year.’

At that moment, David Brooks, the 1990 World Champion, literally walked into my life. He gently reached out to me, told me I’d done a fine job, and encouraged me to call him. So I did, the very next day. I realised that if I were going to be a champion I needed a teacher. One who had been where I wanted to be. That phone call changed my life.” – (Mark Brown, 1995 World Champion of Public Speaking)

Take a moment to reflect on Mark Brown’s lesson: he went from number 2 to number 1 because he found a mentor.

1. How many mentors do you currently have?

2. Can your current mentor(s) help you jump to the next step in your field?

One of the mentors interviewed in the book Seek to Keep – How to Find the Best Mentors and Keep Them is Simon Bucknall. Simon was the youngest person to become the UK & Ireland Champion of Public Speaking, and he talks about the mentors who helped him win these championships.

“It was during the preparation for the Public Speaking World Championship which the mentoring relationship really blossomed. Nigel gave me the confidence to explore who I am, the confidence and space to express what I think and how I feel in an authentic way.

He is a superb listener. By being very good at listening, he gave me all the time and space that I needed. He was good at asking questions and comfortable giving honest, direct feedback.

He is someone who can ask the right questions, allow me the space to talk and invite me to open up in a way where I felt very safe to do so. I feel that he is somebody whom I will go to in times of need or times of trouble.” – (Simon Bucknall, twice UK & Ireland Champion of Public Speaking)

Asking for help doesn’t show how weak you are; asking for help highlights how good you want to be.

One of my clients last year wanted help to prepare her TED talk and little did she know how much it would change her life. Esther had already received a lot of media attention and had videos on YouTube with up to 20,000 views. She was already a very experienced speaker with no fear of public speaking and great feedback from her audiences… and yet she asked for help because she knew that she could do better.

Her talk has now reached over 4,400,000 views, and since then she has been invited to speak at many prestigious conferences with world-class CEOs, received global media attention and was featured on a 2-page spread in the Wall Street Journal!

You can learn from Esther that asking for a bit of help can get you a very long way. I don’t know anything about family therapy, but I know about public speaking. The mentors you are looking for don’t need to know everything about everything. They don’t even need to know more than you on every possible subject. All your need from your mentors is to be better than you in ONE area that you want to improve on.

If you want to become the best at what you do, you want external help.

When is the last time you STRATEGICALLY asked for help and/or advice?

Take a moment to answer the following questions because they will help you define what your mentor can help you with:

1. How well do you want to be in your field? What level of success is the next step of your journey?

2. What are you best at? What are the topics/areas in which you excel?

3. What are the obstacles between you and what you want to achieve?

4. If you want to achieve your success goal from question 1, what are the topics you need to learn more about / what skills do you need to improve on?

5. Who are the people in or outside of your network who have overcome the obstacles you face (question 3) and are better than you in the areas described in question 4?

If you want to know more about how to find mentors, check out my next article.

The article was co-authored by Lujie Chen is the co-founder of the Kairos Society ASEAN, an organisation which connects innovators in South East Asia with mentors, domain experts and successful entrepreneurs around the world to help them tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges.