Viewpoint: The Courage to Conquer Begins at the Core

Viewpoint: The Courage to Conquer Begins at the Core

A message from our International President


One thing has become clear to me this year: We as an organization do not speak enough about our core values. They are the principles on which this organization stands, yet I am finding they are virtually unknown to many. In order for us to accomplish our vision and mission, it is imperative that we begin with the following core values:

Integrity. When a member submits an educational application, we must trust that he or she actually fulfilled the obligations of that award. Yet there have been times when a WHQ staff member has received a phone call from an individual saying, “I just received a certificate from you, but I haven’t been in Toastmasters for years.” Someone in a district had completely sacrificed their integrity for the sake of false recognition. What a shame! Integrity means when you say or do something, it is genuine and true.

Respect for the individual. During the contestant interviews at the D73 evaluation contest, the Toastmaster asked the participants to share the most meaningful evaluation they had ever received. One woman replied that she once received an evaluation that was a “complete destructive disaster.” She said it was so horrible that she almost quit. Thankfully, she didn’t, and she said that evaluation reminded her to always be empathetic to the speaker. Regardless of our role in Toastmasters, we should always show respect for the individual.

Service to the member. Our members are served through our clubs. We provide the best possible service to our members by focusing on our program as designed, and working to be a Distinguished club. Toastmasters is an educational organization. Not following our program would be like enrolling in a university class and the professor not using the textbook, allowing students to do as they wish, and not caring what happens as long as everyone has a good time. That is not service. Is your club voting in its members, formally inducting them, assigning them a mentor and explaining all that Toastmasters has to offer? Are you following the program? If you can answer yes to these questions, then your club is providing the best possible service to its members!

Dedication to excellence. My husband, Bob, and I had the honor of recently visiting a meeting of the Auckland Toastmasters club in Auckland, New Zealand. It was the night they were electing officers. I watched the formalities unfold. For every position, one member of the club stood and made a formal nomination. The nomination was seconded. The nominator then stood and spoke about why the nominee would do a good job as an officer. I was so impressed! I couldn’t help but think, Now this is dedication to excellence! Excellence is a standard the club lives by. What is the standard of your club? Your district?

As we begin a new year, I ask us all to remember that courage is a strength that allows us to conquer many things…but it must begin at our core!

Jana Barnhill, DTM, Accredited Speaker
International President

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