When I joined Toastmasters in 2014, it was a direct result of that very common fear of public speaking. My inability to stand up in front of people was starting to affect my work life. This wasn’t a new thought – I’d checked out Toastmasters five years earlier, and found the very same club I later joined, but then chickened out. I thought I was joining to conquer my fear. I was so wrong.
I had no idea what Toastmasters had in store for me, but was blessed with mentors who encouraged me to try new things and to step out of my comfort zone over and over again. Soon, I was leading meetings, taking on club officer roles, and competing in contests. It wasn’t much longer before I joined an advanced club to further my skills, began coaching a struggling club, and had the opportunity to serve as an Area Director.
The best thing I’ve learned in my Toastmasters journey is that the opportunities are endless, and there are Toastmasters to support you along this journey, wherever it leads. As an Area Director, I connected with Toastmasters at other clubs and learned about their challenges. I appreciated some of the creative additions to their meetings, and built bonds which still exist years later. As a Club Coach, I gained valuable lessons about stepping in to act, and stepping back to push club members in their own skills. As a Club Sponsor, I’ve learned that sometimes the hard call to “let it go” is the best choice, and that new, more fruitful, opportunities exist.
As Division E Director this year, I’ve had opportunities to jump unexpectedly into leadership gaps, to take new initiatives in online Club Officer Training, to connect with Toastmasters in Division E and throughout District 60, and to build my own support team within Division E in offering promotional and web support to our clubs. In “leading leaders”, I’ve had the privilege of watching leaders in Division E grow and develop their own skills, and to encourage them in their own diverse goals for the coming year.
My personal experiences with single parenthood, entrepreneurship, homelessness, and a severe injury with lifelong repercussions have all helped me to develop a skill I see as key in any leadership role: adaptability. The past few months have clearly shown that maintaining the status quo isn’t good enough – as humans, as leaders, it’s essential that we are able to find, and create, new solutions when change occurs. While some of my past experiences weren’t pleasant, I’m grateful for the experience in adapting to these – it’s a valuable skill in any leadership role.
As a member of the District Trio, I look forward to building further skills in cooperative leadership and to supporting members throughout District 60 in their personal quest for excellence. One of my favourite quotes is from Dolly Parton: “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” THIS is the leadership to which I aspire.
It would be my privilege to serve on the District trio in 2020-21 as your Club Growth Director.