Viewpoint: Which Are You?

Viewpoint: Which Are You?


I watched them tear a building down; A gang of men in a busy town. With a mighty heave and a lusty yell, They swung a beam and a side wall fell.

I said to the foreman,“Are these men skilled And the men you’d hire if you had to build?” He gave a laugh and said,“No indeed! Just a common laborer is all I need; I can easily wreck in a day or two What builders have taken a year to do.”

And I thought to myself as I went my way, “Just which of these roles have I tried to play? Am I a builder who works with care Measuring life by the rule and square? Or am I a wrecker who walks the town Content with the labor of tearing down?”

For Toastmasters, our building begins at the club level. I believe we all strive to be the builder of strong clubs and not their “wrecker.” Yet sometimes in Toastmasters, we find ourselves in the company of the wrecker – a bully or a bossy personality.

When clubs are having difficulty, the problem is often caused by one personality – a wrecker. The wrecker is not always someone else; it could be me – or you.

We must ask ourselves: Am I the “builder who works with care”? Or am I the wrecker, “content with the labor of tearing down”?

Most of us have experienced this team-building predicament. Clubs try a variety of things to alleviate the problem, such as changing their meeting times or venues, or altering the meeting format. None of these solve the problem of wreckers, and clubs continue to decline in membership and quality of service as a result.

When I see a club struggling, I ask first about the people. What are the club dynamics? Do members complete education goals? Are they being evaluated fairly and constructively? Is the club attracting a steady flow of new members? If not, why not?

Often, it appears easier to change the external problems rather than explore solutions to the human element creating the dissonance. After all, it is very challenging to address an offending personality. However, we are presented with opportunities each day to practice diplomacy, tact and bravery in our communication. Toastmasters teaches us to use these tools in all we say and do. Let us, together, build strong clubs with these tools of the trade.

I challenge you, as Toastmasters Achieving Greatness Together, to act as “builders who work with care” and to encourage the “wreckers” to build with us.

Pat Johnson
International President