Viewpoint: Achieving Greatness Together
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
– The ancient sage Patanjali
When I first read these words, I was amazed at how accurately they reflect our Toastmasters experience. I believe it takes true inspiration or vision of who and what we can become to draw us through the door of our very first Toastmasters meeting. Whether it was vision of the person you could become and the skills you could develop, or it was fear or lack of confidence that pushed you through the door, Welcome. Welcome to the safe and supportive environment where greatness happens!
As a relatively new Toastmaster, I believed I was a typical member. I thought most people came to the program looking for the same things I did. But what an amazing revelation this experience has been! I find people joining clubs worldwide who already have very sophisticated communication or leadership skills, people who already possess confidence and self-esteem. I gradually realized there really is no typical new Toastmaster and therefore no “cookie- cutter” definition of how greatness would be defined for them.
As we mentor and support one another in our club environment, we share our own personal greatness. Toastmasters International is in the education business and we change the lives of men and women around the world, one person at a time, one assignment at a time, each time we receive feedback in the form of applause or a suggestion for improvement.
Mark Caine said, “The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” Our Toastmasters program empowers us to break the bonds of captivity, to shrug off our lack of self-esteem and lack of confidence, and to move through the various levels of communication and leadership development, experiencing mini steps of success each time we challenge ourselves.
My fervent wish for each of us is that we spend some time recognizing and acknowledging our own personal greatness. Remember that your greatness will be unique to you.
My thoughts and feelings on the concept of us Achieving Greatness Together is captured by the Scottish writer and politician John Buchan, who said, “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.” May we elicit it together!
Pat Johnson, DTM