Life has been challenging recently so I hope you will indulge me as I reflect on my experiences.
We each have a different reason for joining Toastmasters, albeit with a common aim of improving some aspect of ourselves. We also have different reasons for staying as members, as long as we continue to feel we get some benefit.
My Toastmasters journey began nearly 18 years ago when I decided that I needed to improve my ability to deliver presentations and training, and to better deal with questions in public meetings. I found that delivering prepared speeches and evaluations helped with the former, and Table Topics gave me the skills and confidence to cope with the latter.
After eight years of personal growth and great leaps in my self-confidence, I reached a point where my enthusiasm began to wane. It was at that point that I started a new club, County Communicators. The experience of seeing a group of 20 new Toastmasters embarking on their own personal journeys was inspiring, and made me realise how much I could give back by supporting others.
I have made so many new friends over the years as a result. Being on the District Leadership Team has expanded that circle across the world, and I was reminded of that this past couple of weeks. My father sadly passed away recently, and I received messages of sympathy from Toastmasters from all over the world. Knowing there are so many people supporting me when I most need them is one reason why I am still a member of Toastmasters. I am sure you have an equally supportive network.
While I take great satisfaction in helping others, I am still learning through my involvement in Toastmasters, so it is not entirely altruistic. In addition to the growth I am gaining as District Director, I am thrilled to have new opportunities as a result of Pathways. It saddens me when I hear experienced members complain simply because Pathways is “new” and “different”. Remember what it felt like as a new member, when everything was new and different. That was why it was so exciting, to be embarking on your personal journey of discovery! So why not embrace the new challenges, not only for your own benefit, but also so that you can continue to offer help and support to our newer members and make your experience count.
Let’s keep changing lives, one speech at a time…