Viewpoint: "Shaping Ourselves"


A message from our International President

Last month, I introduced my theme for this year - “Toastmasters: Shaping Ourselves... Shaping our World!” This month and next, I’m going to take this theme apart, then put it back together again so we can really understand what it means for each and everyone of us.

Shaping Ourselves. Did you ever say to yourself: “I’m going to get into shape this year? I’ll lose 20 pounds before summer arrives”? Or perhaps... “For sure I’ll quit smoking on New Year’s Day?” Did you do it? Did you follow through with your good intentions? Maybe yes, maybe no. But at one point you did say to yourself “I need to get into better shape” – as a communicator, and perhaps as a leader. You may not have expressed it that way, but when you decided to join your Toastmasters club, you were in fact making a decision to shape yourself and shape your future!

Are you in better shape now than when you joined Toastmasters six months or six years ago? The tests are simple: Are you more skilled, more at ease and more confident in communicating with your audiences, whether you’re speaking to one or a thousand? Has your ability to take on leadership tasks – ranging from small team to big department – improved? Another key test is the reaction from others: Are co-workers, clients, significant others seeing a “new you”? Are you seeing a “new you”? The answers will all be Yes! if you’ve “worked out” on our communication and leadership tracks.

Once we get into better shape, the next challenge is staying in shape. Like acquiring a physical skill or learning how to play a musical instrument, the best way to stay in shape is to stay at it. That’s where your friendly supportive Toastmasters club plays a continuing role, no matter how long you’ve been a member. The learning never ends. At the International Convention in Phoenix, I asked Lisa Vincent, a Toastmaster from District 54 whom I’d never met before, to evaluate my acceptance speech. Why? Because staying in shape is important to me, and I need my fellow Toastmasters to help me do that. She relished the opportunity and so did I. Thank you, Lisa!

Fellow Toastmasters, it’s that simple! Nowhere else can you get the shaping experience in communication and leadership that’s available to you in Toastmasters. By following our proven programs, we are “Shaping Ourselves.” Next month I’ll make the link to “Shaping our World.”

Chris K. Ford, DTM
International President