YJA Convention 2008: An Analysis of my Own Session

I just came from the YJA (Young Jain Association) Convention earlier this . I have experienced more personal growth in the past three days then I have ever experienced before. Since there is so much to talk about regarding this topic, I have the posts into the four-part series:

Part One: Random thoughts and Observations
Part Two: Analysis of my own session
Part Three: Training and Eating at YJA
Part Four: Reflections on Personal Growth

Here is part two:

I walked into small room at approximately 2:45 pm on Friday July 4, 2008. I had just come out from a great and was psyched to give my own. I met my A/V guy and pulled out my CD, which contained the power point presentation I had worked so hard on over the past few months. The A/V guy put the disc in, and then turned to face me with a frown on his face. “There’s nothing on the disc.”
I felt my throat become dry and after a split second of panic, I noticed the A/V guy trying again. He repeated what he had said before and I responded, “Do you have internet?” He said no, they did not. So then I said, “It’s ok. Probably my fault. Brought the wrong disc or burnt it wrong. I’ll just have to do it without the PowerPoint.” The A/V guy then hooked me up with my microphone and the show was on!
To tell you the truth, the first 30 seconds was the most terrifying. I had 30 high kids staring up at me, waiting for me to speak. In the back of my mind, I was just trying to recall my power point. Luckily, I had rehearsed it several times and knew where to start. I’m not going to spend time giving an exact play by play as to what I said. Highlights of the speech will be posted on the site in the next few days.
What was good?
• I really enjoyed interacting with the high school kids. I posed a really tough question to them, “What would you do if you had 30 seconds to live?” This was a question that I had asked during the JNF Ice Breakers as well. This is a question for even adults to answer, but I was pleasantly surprised at the responses, especially in the first session. Many people said they would tell their parents how much they loved them. A guy from the second session said that he would try to help as many people as he could in 30 seconds because that is what gives him joy.
• When you do not have a power point presentation, there is a sense of spontaneity involved. You no longer control the conversation. You can really gauge into what your audience is thinking and feeling, and respond to that. The first session had me bring up a guy in front of the stage to perform the 2 minute . The audience saw him struggle through the , then break through in the last few moments. The burpee challenge also woke people up who were sleeping and became a sort of staple when it came to the second session.
• I was very surprised at how I handled myself up there. I felt like a new person during and after the presentation. I felt as though I had established myself as an expert, and that I had really injected or planted the seeds of thought that I had wanted to in many of these high school/ college kids.
• I was also very impressed by the thought process of many of the kids. If you really give them the chance, these high school kids can come up with some impressive ideas and concepts. I was also surprised at how much they knew about Jain Philosophy. Some of them seemed to know more than I did, which was very humbling.
What was…not so good?
• It was difficult to stay on track and organized without the PowerPoint. According to my cousin, I was jumping around a lot from one topic to the next without making clear connections. I do feel that I was able to make the kids start thinking, but it was like I planted the seed in one garden, then walked over to another garden without providing any fertilizer to the first one.
• The burpees on the second session seemed a bit forced, and I’m not sure if the kids were able to make the connection between the burpees and what I was saying. To clarify, burpees are a very difficult exercise that pushes your body to the limits. When you are pushed and tired, your mind takes over and either tells your body to stop or keep going. My goal was to get people to train their minds to push themselves beyond their comfort levels. When you are tired, weaknesses are exposed, and this is when you learn the most about yourself.
• I feel really bad when I see someone sleeping or with their head down. If their attention is not towards me, I feel as though I need to entertain them with something. The burpees got people on their feet and excited, but once again, did they really know why I did them? Overall, I think I should not expect everyone to pay attention and listen as they are high school kids and under the circumstances (most of them were on 5 hours of sleep per night for the past 3 days), they did pretty good.
• I am very bad at ignoring challenges. When one kid in the second session told me to do the burpees as well, I took on the challenge and did it as well. His friend, who was the first guy to perform the burpees, shouted out that my knees were touching the ground. At first I thought they were just trying to psyche me out, but now I realize that may true. I honestly did not realize my knees touching the floor. It could have been the angle at which they were sitting which made them believe my knees were touching the floor. My cousin did not say that I was either. Either way, the truth is that I was not prepared for the burpee challenge because that was the first time I had performed it. I have now exposed a weakness, not only to myself but to others as well. I regret not being ready for the challenge, but that’s fine as now I have something to work on.
What will I do differently?
• Well first of all, I will prepare myself for the burpee challenge. On the way to my father’s store, I created a six-week to help get my burpees up. The program is to be done seven days a week and acts as a warm-up routine, although it can easily be a stand-alone for beginners. I will publish the program once I have completed it and make sure it works.
• I really enjoyed public speaking and wish to do more of it in the future. I enjoyed the interactive nature, but would still like to keep things more organized. And so, some sort of workshop would work best as a method of teaching my material. In addition, I feel that narrowing down the subject matter to one or two things as opposed to five or six principles will help a lot.
• Some of the things that I talked about are difficult for high school children to understand. I will try to match what I say more to the age group that I am speaking to. I feel that high schoolers need to tackle and understand the concept of insecurities and fears and need to learn how to overcome them at an early age.
• I will certainly be making sure that I bring my power point. I will be using a zip drive as opposed to a CD. In addition, I will attempt to complete my presentation a week out from the actual speaking date. I usually accomplish such tasks my developing min plans with set stages and deadlines. I did not do so with this particular project. It was more like, “whenever I have time.” We all know how effective that is.
• I will try to bring my own promotional materials including t-shirts, booklets, pamphlets, and hand outs. I would like people to both retain the information they learn in my session, and to visit my website. I believe I did a great job of promoting myself, but would like to take this is a step further and become the official personal trainer for YJA.
• I had tried to get some sort of morning callisthenic/kickboxing session going for the morning along with the Yoga sessions, but I believe I was just talking to the wrong person. I will try to get in touch with people who are higher up on the ladder and get some of my ideas materialized. In addition, I will be running for the board, as mentioned in my previous post.

Closing Comments

I’m really glad that I put myself up in front of all my kids and threw myself into an uncomfortable position. Some of my friends are giving me a hard time (or at least I feel) about not meeting any girls, or not following through with some people, etc. But you know what, I’m happy with the improvement I’ve made so far. I can’t go back and say to myself, “Oh I couldn’t done this, or I should’ve done that.” No, the point is that you learn from the past, and you apply it to the future. Don’t let your emotions get in the way.

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