In the last blog post, I wrote about how three days prior to the competition I still did not have a fully complete speech. It was missing many crucial parts and simply was short of a winning speech and the criteria that fulfilled all the objectives.

There are two ways to tackle this. One way is to work relentlessly without stopping, without taking a break, and working throughout the night until you nail it and the other is to take long interspersed breaks and sleep on it.

Kurt Godel, one of the most significant logicians and mathematicians in history, who had an immense effect upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century described his thought process as “A mystical journey”.

In order to solve problems in mathematics, he suggested that “One must lie down in a quiet place and close off all senses and then actively seek with the mind to directly perceive numbers, infinite sets, and the other objective and absolute inhabitants of the world of pure abstract possibility”.

While he was referring directly to his field of study, it is not hard to extrapolate or interpret how you can apply this to all and any field of study.

It goes without saying that he had done the leg work and I must remind you that in the weeks leading up to the competition I spent an average of two to three hours per day reading, gathering information, and preparing a totally new speech. I had the skeleton ready and all it needed was dressing it up but every professional speaker will tell you that’s also the hardest part.

Taking time off and sightseeing in Rabat prior to the Division F, Toastmasters compeition.

In order to achieve my objectives I first needed to let go, to completely relax and detach from everything. This helped clear my mind and allow me to start looking at it with a fresh perspective. So after a long walk and some sightseeing, I decided to have an afternoon nap. By this time nothing new had come to my mind so I read the important points of my speech once again and let go. I knew that the ideas will come, that my subconscious will do the job while I switch off all sense and go to sleep.

Bingo by the following day I had some ideas that felt good to play with. I worked on weaving them into the speech and then took another long break. Practically another full day of sightseeing, eating out, and letting go.

It seems counterproductive, at such a crucial time when you are only days, hours before a big event or an exam. Most people would close the door and cram. Yes part of it is needed but the breaks are equally as required. I never crammed the night before the exam. I never crammed the hours and minutes prior to the exam. I always studied one day up until the exam and then took a break and completely disconnect. I would let go. I would go out for a walk, go to a cinema, watch a movie and do anything other than study.

So next time you get stuck on something give it a try, take a break and sleep on it.

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