Viewpoint: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
A message from our International President.
Where did that year go!? I’m sure it was just yesterday you elected me as your International President, and this month you’ll elect someone else! As I look back on one of the most challenging, rewarding and quickest years of my life, I can honestly say… it’s been quite a ride! Now if you’ve ever been on a ride at the amusement park or summer fair, you know that every ride has its ups and downs. Sometimes you wish it would last forever, and sometimes you pray for it to stop. You ask yourself: “What was I thinking when I got on this one?” – then you get off and tell all your friends they should go on the ride too!
This past year has been full of (mostly) ups and (a few) downs. And that’s inevitable with leadership, whether at the club, district or international level. Carole and I have had the awesome privilege of visiting thousands of Toastmasters across Canada, the U.S., Australia and Malaysia, and hopefully I have reached a couple hundred thousand more through this column. The strength of Toastmasters International is in its members, and that point was reinforced with every Toastmaster we met, wherever we went. At every stop we saw the results of dedicated volunteer leaders giving their all to ensure that each member gets the most out of the Toastmasters experience.
Sure, there have been a few “downs” – unexpected challenges, the odd disappointment, not to mention delayed flights and lost luggage! But that’s life as a leader, and one simply has to deal with the downs and move on. All in all, it has been a tremendous shaping experience for me personally, and I hope I have contributed to the shaping of each one of you in some way.
Looking ahead – our organization is poised for greatness! We have a proven product: a person who is in better shape for having pursued self-improvement as a communicator and a leader. We have the opportunity to expand into untapped markets around the world, and to shape our world in the process. Let us be courageous as together we face the challenges offered by a great future for all of us, and for all whose lives we touch.
Thank you to all Toastmasters around the world, for the honor and the privilege of serving as your President for the past year! Thank you to our immensely capable World Headquarters staff: Your “day in, day out” support to keep the machinery of TI operating effectively is vital to our success. And to my chère Carole: I cannot thank you enough for joining me on this ride!
Chris K. Ford, DTM