Viewpoint: The Gift You Give Yourself

Viewpoint: The Gift You Give Yourself

A message from our  International President

My purpose for joining Toastmasters was to find employment. Six weeks after I joined, I found my first job after college, working for U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon. Yet my journey of self-improvement was just beginning.

Even though Toastmasters gave me the confidence to talk my way into a job with Senator Hatfield, I still did not master the art of self-assurance. One month after I joined Senator Hatfield’s staff, and two months after I joined Toastmasters, worked at an event for the senator that was attended by almost every past and current politician in Oregon’s recent history. Since I love ­politics, I was in heaven! I easily could have walked over to U.S. ­senators, governors, state representatives and judges and asked them ­questions about history, politics or communication. What an opportunity!

What I did was sit in the corner and talk to no one. I was so overwhelmed and uncertain about what to say that I said nothing. I still regret my missed opportunity to mingle with my political heroes.

I discovered that day that I still had more to learn – especially about believing in myself and my abilities. That is where Toastmasters has made all the difference in my life. Upon returning to my club the following week, I promised myself I would never again let my lack of confidence stop me from following my dreams.

Answering Table Topics each week, learning from evaluations, giving speeches, and serving as a leader in my club and district helped build my confidence. Day by day, year by year, I still continue to learn and grow. As do you, in your journey of self-discovery.

In 2004 I had the opportunity to meet then-U.S. President George W. Bush. He was shaking hands quickly with onlookers while moving along a rope line. I really wanted to take my picture with President Bush. When he shook my hand, I did not let go. As the Secret Service began to notice this, with a smile I asked the president for a photo. My friend stood nearby with a ­camera and I received a snapshot of my moment with history. Toastmasters gave me the confidence to make my dream a reality.

Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” Fellow Toastmasters, have belief in your abilities, your talents and your purpose. Toastmasters gives us the confidence to courageously achieve our dreams. Your journey of confidence-building begins now!

Gary Schmidt, DTM
International President