Viewpoint: The Courage to Conquer the Next Step

Viewpoint: The Courage to Conquer the Next Step

A message from our International President

March is a busy month for Toastmasters. Club dues are collected. The Talk Up Toastmasters Membership Drive is wrapping up. World Headquarters mails club proxies and proposal information to the clubs. But something else is happening that is vital to the existence of this organization: District Nominating Committees are meeting to nominate potential district leaders for the next district year.

Now, before you think, “Well, this doesn’t concern me” and turn the page, please consider this: Toastmasters depends on nearly 4,000 volunteer leaders every year to manage the work of our districts. If we did not have all those members willing to move beyond their clubs and conquer that next step of district leadership, we would not be able to accomplish what we do today or what we hope to accomplish tomorrow. Club officers would not have the training they do. Members would not have district conferences to attend, and thousands of Toastmasters would not have the opportunity to further their leadership development.

If you are like me, you never joined Toastmasters to become a leader. You might ask yourself why you would want to take that step. You feel your needs are being met within your club setting. I encourage you to think about this: Individuals who develop their communication skills are considered to be more effective leaders. However, that doesn’t automatically make them more effective. By accepting district leadership positions in Toastmasters, it affords you the opportunity to build, practice and sharpen leadership skills that can truly set you apart.

In the fall I visited a group of State Farm Insurance clubs. While there, one of the executives told me that she now looks to Toastmasters for the company’s leadership training. That was exciting to me! It was yet another affirmation that we have what people are looking for – not only for communication skills, but for leadership as well.

I am reminded of a favorite saying: “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot!” In other words, don’t ever allow yourself to settle for comfortable. It’s only in continually stretching ourselves, challenging ourselves to move beyond our comfort zones, that we continue to grow and find the courage to conquer things we never dreamed we could. As the Chinese proverb states, “Be not afraid of growing slowly; be only afraid of standing still.”

I challenge you to not be still. Don’t settle for being comfortable within the confines of your club. Take that next step and become a district leader. Is it difficult at times? Yes. But don’t let that scare you. If there were no challenges, where would the growth opportunities come from? The experience you gain will reap huge benefits and open doors you may never have imagined. So go ahead! Become a district leader. Have The Courage to Conquer the Next Step.

Jana Barnhill, DTM, Accredited Speaker
International President