Reaching the highest level in one’s field of expertise is an uplifting experience, but it can also reveal aspects of our character that many prefer to keep hidden. Dark facets of our persona are compartmentalized within our minds, with little exposure to the light. In truth, most would prefer to bury their ominous alter ego along with the mounting piles of rubbish in the city landfill, to lie buried for eternity along with plastic grocery bags and old batteries.
Becoming a world champion is a dream for many that few actually achieve. Arabella Benson is one such person who through sheer determination and a clear sense of purpose won the acclaimed title “World Champion Public Speaker”, an accolade revered by many and yet held only by an exclusive few.
Arabella’s first calling came at a problematic time in her life. She joined Toastmasters and naively thought that entering contests was the natural progression of a new Toastmaster. Others bombarded her with praise and although flattering, the encouragement came at a time when a cherished relationship was failing, and her spirit sank to unfathomable depths along with her heart. Arabella used the challenge as a distraction and instead focused on performing at her best with countless editing and speech practices. Even in adversity, she won the title of Regional Champion and won third at the World Championship in her first year.
Three years later, with heart mended and eagerness bursting, Arabella set out to hone her skills further. She always believed “triumph is not in the trophy, but in striving to do your best.” This time, her best won “World Champion of Public Speaking.” Tenacity and perseverance were the transporters that carried her to this triumph and Toastmasters was the rock she stood on that provided her centre of strength.
Through all of this, the world saw a dynamic and energetic woman. What they did not see was a workaholic who neglected her health. Arabella’s obsession for excellence brought about the next stage of her life. Four years of darkness followed that were made so by the same tenacity that had served her success. Four years of illness including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue hampered the once eloquent speaker to the point where she had difficulty articulating simple words. Eventually, the same perseverance brought her back into the light. After suffering for years with chronic pain and exhaustion, Arabella discovered a raw food lifestyle that restored her health.
Arabella’s story demonstrates that through awareness we can embrace our shadow and channel it to serve our highest good. As Arabella will tell you, good health should never be taken for granted. She is still focused and successful but is a mellower version of her former self. She is fully aware of her obsessive compulsion for excellence and chooses to channel it for the good of others.
Arabella Benson lives in Comox, BC and works as a speech and life coach, speaker and trainer. Her interest in helping aging adults maintain and enhance their brain function led to the award of a grant: Government of Canada New Horizons for Seniors Program, for Comox Valley seniors. She is still in touch with her Toastmaster roots and recently conducted an outstanding seminar for both the Campbell River and Discovery Toastmasters.
Arabella Benson is the only Canadian woman and one of only four women in the world to have won the title of World Champion of Public Speaking in Toastmasters International’s 85-year history.
Rose Temple, Author, is inspired to share her spiritual journey with others by expressing herself through creative writing.