Casablanca, Morocco – Week #6.2

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Casablanca, from the 28th floor of the hotel where my conference is held.

One more incredible week…but quite demanding energy-wise. 5 days in Morocco where I worked as an interpreter for a conference and then I went back to France, for the 2nd round of the public speaking contest.

I think I need to tell you about my regular job because most people imagine that in order to pursue your dream, you need to blow it all up, transform everything, that you need special circumstances. But not at all. I still have a “regular” job, I am an interpreter and on the other side, I’m off towards the conquest of my dream. It’s a transition we need to go through.

Between Paris and Casablanca, it is now 2 weeks I’ve been interpreting, translating and transcribing non-stop. I have also been involved in my first ever japanese translation project and I am so proud of this new step in my life. I took advantage of this intense business period to learn the following lesson:

You’re busy? Work hard! You have more free time? Then do what you love. Not the opposite!

I’ve almost always worked as an independant, entrepreneur, freelance worker. A professional career made of ups and downs where I’ve always done the same mistake:

  • When I am not busy and have a lot of free time, I worry and work harder to get some work back.
  • When I am too busy with work, I am disappointed because I don’t have time to train, study Japanese and do other things I love.

WRONG! I remember one recent discussion with my mom where she said: “Your life is made of ups and downs. Sometimes, nothing will show. Sometimes, it will take a new direction in less than 24 hours. Don’t worry.”

It is now 2 weeks that my time and energy are devoted to interpreting. When my work day is done, I go see friends I haven’t seen in a long time, I learn my speeches and I rest more than usual. Of course, I think about Triathlon and Japanese everyday but right now, I don’t have enough energy to give them.

And that’s how I understood that the days of my life, my schedule will never be identically the same and perfectly balanced. There will be some time where I’ll be able to train 6 hours a day and some other times, where I’ll be busy with something else; not because my priorities changed but because Life has its own rythm. A rythm I have to follow.

Thus next time I have a lot of free time, I’ll be confident work will come back and I will take advantage of that time to recharge my batteries, do what I love, see friends and get closer to conquering my dream.

Thus next time I am busy with work, I will be happy for the opportunity and I won’t miss my other activities because I know I enjoyed them as much as I could when I was free and because I know that sooner or later, another moment will come where I’ll be able to enjoy them again.

Life actually is not a long and easy river but rather a series of waves, more or less tall, where you need to know how to sail your boat different ways.

Public speaking contest – 2nd round

It was yesterday, in Antibes, South France. Teams from the south-east part of France were there. As you know, I am qualified for both the english and french contest.

We are 5 finalists in for the french contest. The running order is being decided. I will be the 4th to speak. But I don’t care about when I speak. If you go up last, it’s easier for the judges to grade you and make you win but usually when I speak up first, people tell me: “Damn, I wouldn’t want to speak after you”. I don’t know the other 4 finalists and that makes me a little nervous. I try to imagine what can they have in their guts. But I remind myself this sentence from Michael Phelps’ book: “When Michael Jordan plays basket-ball or when Tiger Woods plays golf, they’re not tripping about what their opponent is doing. When Tiger Woods is putting on the green of the 18th hole, he’s not thinking ‘Man, Phil Mickelson is one stroke behind, what am I gonna do?”. No, when great ones are in action, it’s between the game and themselves. No one else.”

So I breathe, try to be more serene and remember all the moments in the last few weeks where I successfully overcame my fear. Yes I am more stressed than usual. I want to win. Want to do well. Want to inspire. I know I worked hard…but having a blank of memory scares me. It’s a mix of all that.

My moment comes and I give my speech.

I used to believe that in order to be a good speaker, you need to rehearse your speech about 850 000 times. But I just learnt a better tactic. To be a good speaker, you need to speak in public tens and hundreds of times…and rehearse your speech, 10, 15, 20 times.

I think I will apply this strategy to triathlon and to other activities of my life. What should I do to win a triathlon race? Train a lot and race a lot? Or train until I am perfect at training and then go for one race?

To me, it’s all clear. In fact, I gave my french speech and I did have a blank of memory. But no one noticed it. I kept on looking people in the eyes and continued. I don’t know my speech as perfectly as during the 2013 contest for example, but without a doubt, I am a better speaker.

The results are in…and…I am first 🙂

My french speech, titled “Impossible Dream” is great on one level. It comes from my heart. If you were to rip my heart away from my chest and put it on a table, it would say the exact same thing I am saying during the talk. When I give this speech, I get teary about 5 times.

During the coffee break, people come talk to me and I realize something. When you speak with your heart, people don’t talk to you about the same things, and they don’t do it the same way. Recently, I was asked if I was scared, scared to expose myself, scared of you and if you might judge me. The answer is yes. All the time. But in order to allow people to be real with you, there’s only way: You gotta be real first.

We are 3 finalists for the english contest. However, here, I know my 2 opponents. The man is a former European champion and the lady is last year’s European champ. I am impressed but tell myself this line from Eric Thomas: “Greatness is upon you, you better act like it”.

Running order? I am first. I know this feeling and I step onto the stage…like a lion. Last year, my little sister saw one of my speaking videos and said: “When you’re on stage, you’re perfect. But the second your speech is over and you step off the stage, I can recognize the Gregory I know, the Gregory who’s fragile, the Gregory who looks at his feet, the Gregory who lacks confidence”.

This year, I am in lion mode from A to Z. If you wanna see me vulnerable, see me at the parking lot! 😉

I give my speech. Everything goes well. In this talk, I ask questions to the audience. Before I speak, I look at the people in and tell myself: “This is the person you’re gonna ask that question to”. And when the moment comes, I feel can transpierce his or her body with my words. I ask the question and I can see a spark in their eyes, I can see them sigh, I can see their shoulders lower. It is an incredible moment.

The defending champion speaks rights after me. Her speech is remarkable and she’s a fantastic speaker. When she’s done, she goes back  to her chair, breathing hard as if she just finished running 10 x 400m at 95% of her maximum heart rate!

The results are in. I am second. Later, the defending champ confesses she got stressed out when she saw me just before her. Later, I am also told the victory was decided by only a few points. Later, the defending champ comes to me and says: “You’re qualified for the Nationals now. Do you want me to coach you?”

This made me smile for 2 reasons. Firstly, it is an amazing opportunity for improvement. Secondly, it is months now that I don’t know who to choose as my triathlon coach. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to happen? I will be at a race soon, kill it and the right coach will be there and he will come see me.

2014-04-05 18.39.33

1st in french (left), 2nd in english (right), qualified for the Nationals (middle) 😉

You thought I was kidding when I said “If you wanna see me vulnerable, see me at the parking lot”, but not at all! It’s all over, I get to my car and collapse. I feel like I’m Michael Phelps after the Beijing Olympics, where he went for 8 different races. We could believe that 1, 2, 3 or 4 races is the same. After all, it’s the same sport. But not at all. In my case, 2 contests equals 2 times more training, 2 times more focus and 2 times more nervous tension. I am drained.

The Nationals will take place in Paris on Saturday April 26th, my sister’s birthday. If you want to attend this event live, you know what to do. One more good news, I might also be qualified for the english speech contest, despite my 2nd place.

Today was the first day of the world cup of triathlon and this is where I noticed the irony of the schedule…

  • 5/6 April: 1st stage in Auckland, New-Zealand. At the same time, I am in Antibes for the Regionals.
  • 26/27 April: 2nd stage in Cape-Town, South Africa. At the same time, I’ll be in Paris for the Nationals.
  • 17/18 May: 3rd stage in Yokohama, Japan. At the same time, you know it, I’ll be at the European Championship in Poland.
  • 1st of June: 4th stage in London, UK. And there, at the same time, I’ll be on the starting line, wearing a swim-suit…

This week, show the change around you, do what the highest version of yourself would do, believe in what you love and what you do. And if you fail while going for your dream, adjust your plan…not the dream.

Thank you for your donations this week. My dream is alive. More than ever.


2014-04-03 13.07.52

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