The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

“C810,” the judge announced. I check my code again — it’s mine. Rising from my seat, I step towards the front of the room. The other competitors clap, as is customary for speech events, breaking the sacred silence that previously occupied the room. It is only my second Speech & Debate tournament — and my very first competing in Original Oratory.

In my head, I hear the echo of my coach drilling her last minute tips and reminders two days prior to the tournament: “Remember to ask for time signals!”, “Move! Don’t stand still like a robot!”, “If you forget something, just keep talking!”

“May I have time signals?” I ask. The judge consents.

“Whenever you’re ready.”

After briefly scanning the room, my lips part and sound emerges. “We humans tend to…”

Focusing on the judge while I continue my speech, I notice her leaning on the desk like a bored student in math class after an hour of lecture. The other competitors exude an aura of disinterest and fatigue. Not good. I scour my memory of my last practice with my coach. I can’t recall anything as I am still focused on speaking, and nothing seems to be helping. An electric shock runs through my body as the judge held up two fingers. The brakes are slammed on my train of thought,...

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