Toastmasters founder Ralph C. Smedley had a vision: to “share with others the benefits we have gained for ourselves.” Millions have benefited from Smedley’s vision. Imagine the world without his farsightedness and insight. The importance of having a personal vision is often underestimated. It’s like setting out on a long-distance journey without a map or a GPS to keep you on the right path. The fruits of your future success depend on a clear view of where you want to go.
I recently met Sridhar Ranganathan, from India, a successful Toastmaster for many years. He has been transformed through the Toastmasters program from a nervous speaker to a confident and accomplished presenter. He is a mentor to many and a sought-after workshop presenter and lecturer. When asked about the secret for his success, he replied, “I am successful because I scripted my personal vision statement a long time ago.” His vision: “I will maximize my gain in Toastmasters to become an empowering communicator and a confident professional in order to reach the top in my organization.”
Ranganathan says every step he took as a Toastmaster, whether inside or outside the organization, moved him closer to his personal vision. Every success motivated him to go to the next level. “Whatever project I took up in Toastmasters, I focused on delivering my message with maximum impact,” he says. “That skill helped me rise to the position of managing director of a 100 million company.”
As your new president, my vision is to lead by example, in both my personal and professional life, while continuing to invest in my own development to become an effective leader. This will help me gain clarity when I am confused, determine if my progress is in line with my vision, and encourage me to make choices that propel me in that direction. And when my time in Toastmasters leadership is over, I will be able to continue helping to improve the lives of others around the world. Having your own personal vision might do the same for you.
History is replete with examples of highly successful individuals: Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Albert Einstein, to name a few. All had grand visions—often scoffed at and ridiculed—and all had a massive influence on the world. They each made the world a better place because they had a personal vision and dared to pursue it. Why not you? Maybe your vision won’t change the world, but it can change your world.
As a new Toastmasters year begins, let us each commit to developing our own personal vision. If we have the conviction that a dream can be achieved, we can inspire others to do the same. Your vision carries the seeds of your future successes. Start planting them today.
BALRAJ ARUNASALAM, DTM