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August is almost over and we head into, what should be, an eventful season of competition. But whether you are a freshman or a seasoned veteran, or whether you are a speech guru or debater, the first item that needs placed in order is perspective. Before the season even starts, you have to have the right perspective and by gaining the proper outlook, victory will be well within your grasp.

Having seen many different events and competitors over my years of competition, I would have to say that perspective is one area that many students fall short in. So often, I would hear my teamates and competitors from schools say, "If only I could beat that one person...or that one team." I would love to sugarcoat my response, but I won't. When those around me proposed these goals, my thought was always simple - Who cares? Who cares about that one person that does well or that one team you can't seem to beat? This perspective is completely off. Although I understand that there are frustrating competitors and students who give you a run for your money, beating a specific opponent should never be your goal. It's a limiting goal and one of desperation, not one of poise and confidence.

Another problematic point of view is the one that is short-sited. I can't believe how many speech and debate students have told me that their goal is to do well at one or two local tournaments. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with having short-term goals, but the perspective is what needs to change.

So, if these are the problems I've seen with differing viewpoints, what should someone's perspective be? In my opinion, I believe each student should enter a new season asking themselves one question: "How do I not only make it to nationals, but how do I succeed at the national tournament?"

Does this sound too lofty? Does it sound unattainable or far-reaching? If it does, chances are, your perspective and not your goals need to change. Let me explain. Each year I competed, I made the above-stated question my barometer. When drafting a speech, I always questioned how my speech would do competing against the top speakers in the nation. By doing so, I was able to accomplish two things. First, I was able to keep my vision on the higher prize and focus on a goal that was difficult to achieve, but rewarding. Secondly, competing at local tournaments no longer seemed to be a daunting challenge because I had prepared my piece for a bigger stage.

Not following me? Let me break it down even further.Let's say your goal is to qualify for the state tournament. There is no problem with wanting to succeed in that. But why stop there? Why focus on the state level when there is something higher to be attained? Not only will you progress and push yourself to new heights, but in the process of focusing on how to be one of the best in the nation, chances are, you WILL qualify for states. And that is all a matter of perspective.

As I conclude, I realize that each person has a different personality, a different event, and a different approach. And don't misunderstand me...I'm not saying that we should all think the same way. But what I am saying is simple. Regardless of how you achieve your goals or by which approach you do so, focusing on the smaller scale will severely limit your chances. Focus on the bigger picture and the bigger stage and that is where you will be. To the pundit who thinks that I am being narrow-minded, I would tell you that this was the only way I was able to press through and succeed. Ask yourself this: If you are against this theory on a higher perspective, first of all, have you made it to nationals? Secondly, if you haven't made it to nationals, maybe it's because you have a limited perspective. And finally, to the few who have made it there, chances are you don't disagree, because it was only through this perspective that you got there.

Sometimes, looking too far ahead can be more harmful than good. I live in Wyoming. If I look at some of the best LDers I have seen (nationally ranked, placed in Dallas last year, etc.), and try to beat them, I'd lose most of my rounds in my home-state because of differing standards regarding WPM, delivery, and jargon.

Good point Cowboy Philosopher. Different competitions call for different tactics.

Could there be a compromise in having a goal of Nationals, but see each tournament as a stepping stone to get to Nationals. So adjust per tournament to meet that goal?

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