I recently heard a speaker say, “Your current situation does not have to be your final destination.” There is great truth to that statement. Who we are now does not have to be who we will be in the future. Making difficult changes for the better is called personal growth.
When I think of personal growth, I think of the three “P’s” required to make that happen. First is patience. It takes time to make things happen, to develop and grow as a person. Be patient and maintain your commitment. (“Patience is the key that solves all problems”—a Sudanese proverb.)
Second is persistence. With persistence we can overcome almost any challenge. When we put our mind to something and are willing to do everything it takes, we will achieve success. (“There is nothing impossible to him who will try”—Alexander the Great.)
Third is perseverance. Perseverance is the ability to overcome setbacks and maintain our motivation in the face of periodic failures and disappointment. (“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up”—legendary baseball player Babe Ruth.)
Toastmasters is a great change agent. It allows us to take small, positive steps in a safe environment. As we steadily enhance our communication and leadership skills, we begin to feel the difference. Our confidence and self-esteem improves. That difference is the growth in who we are and how we think, feel and behave.
With persistence we can overcome almost any challenge.
Ananda Jayawardane, ACB, ALB, is a powerful example of personal growth. He started his career as an engineer and eventually rose to become the vice chancellor of the most prestigious technical university in Sri Lanka, the University of Moratuwa. He attributes his success in large part to his growth in Toastmasters.
“It has boosted my confidence tremendously, changed my attitude about leadership and molded my character,” Jayawardane told me. “It helps my work as vice chancellor, and in other engagements I am much more effective both in public speaking and leadership.”
He treasured his Toastmasters training so much that in 2006 he established a University of Moratuwa Toastmasters club, which he says has benefited many staff members. The university also has a club for students. Jayawardane says it helps them build the communication and leadership skills sought by employers.
So, fellow Toastmasters, don’t think of your club as just a club. Think of it as a laboratory in which you can experiment with ways to learn and grow. Tackle all the projects, accept all the challenges and ask for feedback from those you look up to and trust.
Embrace the three “P’s” of personal growth inside and outside of Toastmasters, and you will soon come to realize your full potential.
BALRAJ ARUNASALAM, DTM