Every Toastmasters year offers huge potential for each of us. In each year, we have the opportunity to gain from the skills we develop and the friendships we make and to give back through a combination of the evaluations we give, the mentoring we provide and the leadership roles, formal and informal, that we take on.
We have so much to celebrate in our District. In June 2016 we achieved President’s Distinguished District for the second year running, which is a reflection of the achievement of all our clubs, something we can all be proud of.
Our tiny district, geographically the smallest in the world, is a vibrant, exciting place. Thousands of people gather in village halls, hotels, pubs and homes nearly every day of the week, from Torquay to Biscester, from Bath to Sandwich, all the way along the south coast and of course cosmopolitan and buzzing London. Those meetings take place purely by the efforts of energetic volunteers who love their clubs and strive to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities. They support their members as they try to improve themselves and their communities.
There’s also great deal to appreciate. Perhaps you appreciate the feedback that you’ve received in your club, because it’s helped you improve your speaking and leadership. Perhaps you’ve been served by another member who stepped in when you needed help. Perhaps you’ve been inspired to continue your journey of learning and development through a few simple conversations at the bar after a meeting. I know I’ve experienced all these and more in the course of 2015-16 and I’m looking forward to even more of them. I encourage you to find a way to show your appreciation, because sometimes the opportunity doesn’t come again.
What do you look forward to this year? Is there something you’ve been thinking of doing but not really felt you’re ready for it?
Let me tell you something.
You’re not ready until you start doing it. Once you start, everything you need to do it will be there for you.
I didn’t feel ready for any of the roles I’ve taken on in my Toastmasters journey, but people have helped me, and they will help you too. Don’t wait to be asked to do something, stick your hand up and offer, and if someone comes to you and says “I believe you’re the right person to do this,” then believe them, because the chances are very good that they see something in you that you don’t see in yourself.
What are your Goals?
So, I encourage you to think about these two questions:
What are your personal goals for 2016/17?
What are your club’s goals?
Spend time with a friend or mentor and consider what you could do to really stretch yourself this year. After all, growth occurs outside our comfort zones, in the stretch zone.
Achieving Our Mission
For the District, we will be aiming for President’s Distinguished District and we have some exciting and ambitious targets. We will also be working towards maintaining the excellence that has become our habit, serving the district mission of building new clubs and supporting all clubs in achieving excellence.
Living Our Values
Let’s be a district that really lives our values of Integrity, Service, Respect and Excellence. Let’s go beyond the minimum required to achieve our goals. In your clubs, instead of aiming for four Competent Communicator awards, why not aim for 8 or 10? Instead of two advanced awards, why not four? Instead of 8 new members, what about 20? Then you can start another club that is continuing the fantastic things you’re doing in your club!
If you’re a club leader, please use these first few weeks to set your club up for success. It’s vital that your club officers are trained and equipped to perform their roles. Even if they’ve done the roles before they will benefit from sharing their experience and with so much growth and new things happening they’re bound to learn something new. We have a fantastic team of area and division directors, supported by our Trainers Bureau, who have been putting in lots of hard work to ensure that your training is useful, compelling and up to date.
It is also key that you build a success plan to support your club in becoming distinguished – we are one of the top performing districts in the world when it comes to distinguished clubs, because we believe that success in the programme is a sign that a club is well run – our members are achieving their educational goals, new blood is flowing in, our officers are trained and the administration is sorted out.
I wish you every success this year as you celebrate, appreciate and achieve!
Grow and be strong!
Vanessa King, District Director 2016-17