This is the award-winning speech I wrote for my Toastmasters Club. I made it to the regional level.
In life, obstacles will always appear. Keeping your eyes on the prize leads to winning. Winning is fun, however, it’s not everything. How you play the game is just as important to gain a victory.
My family’s obsession with Mario Kart is the perfect example of enjoying the journey to victory.
Mario Kart offers four different modes of play.
There’s the battle mode, where players are in an enclosed arena. You begin with three balloons and if hit enough times, you lose not only your balloons but the battle. You can also take balloons from the opposite team. The team with the most balloons at the end of the round is the winner. This mode can be difficult if you don’t work well with your teammates. Watching The Boy’s frustration level rise as he’s eliminated round after round, I have to bite my tongue from lecturing him about playing together WITH his team. After a win, he punches the air, victorious, and it clicks that this is not a time to be solitary. It is a time for working toward a common goal. When I worked for the alphabet banks, I tried to be Superwoman. I had little success and anxiety. Allowing my team to take on responsibility, we would work together for balloons (the bank referred to them as accounts). Teamwork DOES make the dream work as we begin to meet and exceed our goals. Growing into my role as a leader, I knew it was wise to include my team in the monthly planning. We planned how to work our arena, converting check cashers to customers. Teamwork made us successful.
In versus mode, a player chooses from customized rules and courses, then dukes it out. I liken this to my current role. When I first started my day gig, it was more reactive to the people who came in. Someone would come in with an issue, I would solve the issue. That was it. I was waiting for people and this was not me at all. Dealing with the co-irker was worse than watching the minutes of the clock slowly tick by. My Type A personality isn’t wired for directionless days. Considering a new gig, I decided to borrow an idea from my banking days. I followed the motto of “asking for forgiveness instead of asking for permission” and molded programs that would really meet the needs of the people I serve. I customized the rules to a vision that allowed me to leave at the end of the day satisfied. My passion for a job well done plus a desire to have results pits me against the powers that be. My customized rules aren’t always embraced. It’s difficult for my vision to be seen by those who have no vision. I learned that I needed to keep tweaking the rules until everyone could see the victory.
In the time trial mode, the player is pitted against his or herself. The first race sets the time and instinctively, racers drive their best. Subsequent races, the player chases a shadow of themselves, trying to reach and surpass this specter. A player truly trying to build up skills will watch the shadow and learn from the mistakes of past races. A reckless player will continue to make the same mistakes by chasing the shadow. How many times have we allowed the shadows of our past to darken our futures? How many times do we stay in the shadows because it is comfortable? Time trials are about breaking free of our comfort zone, stretching ourselves to new experiences. Allowing bigger and better things to happen in our lives.
The Grand Prix is my favorite, and the one that I believe mirrors life fully. There is a variety of characters, and multiple levels to navigate. The player sets the pace by choosing 50 CC to 150 CC. This is how fast the race will play. Mario Kart is serious business in my house. Choosing a character means scrolling through stats, picking ones that will fit the course for the win. Picking a vehicle is also a crucial task. There’s a crib, coupes, and motorbikes, to name a few. Just like life, choosing the right character and vehicle for play can determine how well the game is played.
Adding to the player’s success are the mystery item boxes that appear in the game. Used strategically, these gift items can help you get ahead in the game. In its latest incarnation, there is an Infinity loop. This loop has eight of the most popular items that can be used at the players’ discretion. The player needs to be wise when holding on to these items. Another player can bump into you, taking some of the items. I have played this game and gotten quite upset at one missing item rather than treasuring the seven that remain. How often do we look at what we have lost rather than appreciate what we possess?
Despite how well I play with my favorite character, Donkey Kong,
there comes a point in the game where I literally look behind myself losing focus on the race. Instead of navigating the course and keeping my eye on the goal, I look for my fellow racers to see where or how they are playing. With one glance, I go from being in the lead to last place because I choose to look behind rather than face the road ahead.
These are just four ways Mario Kart mirrors life. Winning the cup and having bragging rights in the family is fun, but how I won the game makes me feel victorious.