Viewpoint: The Courage to Conquer Distractions

Viewpoint: The Courage to Conquer Distractions

A message from our International President


Happy New Year to you all! I hope your holidays were filled with wonderful times spent with family and friends. Now we are back in the swing of things. Or are we? As much as I love the holidays, they can also be a distraction. Students go home. Many of us travel. Some of our clubs suspend meetings. Refocusing is sometimes challenging.

Yet I am reminded that at any time, distractions of many degrees are all around us. Our members of District 82 were all set for their conference November 29-30 in Chennai, one of the largest cities in India. Then came the Mumbai attacks, in which a division governor lost a family member. As if that were not enough, a cyclone hit, bringing four feet of rain to the streets of Chennai. Yet the majority of the members who were registered for the conference, even that division governor, had the Courage to Conquer those deeply distressing – and distracting – events and attend a fabulous conference.

I recently visited with three past district governors from District 70 in Australia. Each was obviously disappointed that we will not hold our 2010 convention in Sydney. They noted that to some, that decision had been a distraction. Yet each of them said that the most important thing in Toastmasters is what happens in our individual clubs. Each shared stories of what this organization has meant to them and how they remained committed to our program. They had the Courage to Conquer the distraction of their disappointment and are focused on moving forward!

Others of us may be distracted by the economy. For some, the distraction may be a hectic schedule, disagreements with others or attitude problems. Whatever it might be, I encourage you to remember how your life has been changed because of Toastmasters! How has your career, your personal life, your belief in yourself been strengthened because of Toastmasters? Aren’t you glad you didn’t let distractions get the best of you? Aren’t you thankful you kept attending those meetings?

This issue of the Toastmaster contains several great articles devoted to the health of our clubs, as well as to our personal self-improvement. As you consider both, think of the role that distractions can play. Remember that the only way for us to reap the benefits of Toastmasters is to be personally engaged and work the program in our clubs. Don’t let distractions keep you from that. And by the way, clubs: Don’t let distractions keep you from working toward the goal of being a Distinguished Club! As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” As you begin 2009, move in the right direction. Get the most you can from Toastmasters by having The Courage to Conquer Distractions!

Jana Barnhill, DTM, Accredited Speaker
International President

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