When I heard about the Pathways learning experience, I turned my face to the sky and shook my fist at the gods. Whenever anyone mentioned Pathways I left the room in a huff! I knew I wouldn’t like it. I don’t like change.
My better half (and by that I don’t mean a partner, no, I mean the better half of me) signed me up to be a Pathways Guide so I could be on the leading edge of change (instead of its posterior). I grumbled and moved forward, certain I would hate the new program.
When Pathways rolled out, I discovered immediate roadblocks: navigational issues on the website, unfamiliarity with the terrain and plain old stubbornness on my part. Darn that better half of me. Now that I was a guide, I’d have to learn Pathways. Grrr.
But why was I so negative toward Toastmasters’ new education program? Well, because it’s new! I want things to be predictable, comfortable and old! I joined Toastmasters in 2008 in a radiant burst of energy to do something new in my life, to try a new skill and clean the mold off my old self. But since that time, the traditional Toastmasters program had become as comfortable as my favorite slippers, bathrobe and pajamas (in fact, my home club, New Horizons Toastmasters, in Hillsboro, Oregon, had a pajama meeting, so I was completely comfortable on that day). I like comfort. The world hurls discomfort at me; I want Toastmasters to be the place where I am certain to know what is going on, how to handle it and feel no challenge at all.
Yep, my 2008 radiant burst of energy simply went “poof.” My excitement for Toastmasters was gone. My home club had become my comfort zone—the one place I could go to escape the demands of change, technology and (ugh) social networking.
But Pathways is here to stay. My better half thought: Your problem is that your Toastmasters experience changed, and you are annoyed. But it never was YOUR Toastmasters.
After a long weekend pondering my future with Pathways, I decided to embrace the program and be a positive Pathways Guide.
Darn it, I was right. I made it mine because I liked what I saw, heard and felt at every meeting. I invested myself in Toastmasters, found a mentor and never looked back. After a long weekend pondering my future with Pathways, I decided to embrace the program and be a positive Pathways Guide. And, wow, am I glad I did! I love the new program. I’m now on Level 4 in Presentation Mastery, and I’ve been pushed in ways I hadn’t anticipated, such as putting together videos and posting them on YouTube and becoming a Pathways advocate. I am doing it. Pathways is for me!
No, I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. It’s not all peace, love and puka shells. The program has challenges aplenty, but that’s why I joined Toastmasters in the first place—to be challenged.
In the meantime, I am finding really cool features and projects in each level. The project that challenges me now is Creating a Podcast. I bought a microphone, webcam and software, and I recorded content, but I find communicating via video different from speaking in person. Well, duh! Video flattens affect and speech. To not sound boring on video, I need to appear larger and more animated. I also must figure out the software and where to post videos, and determine who might be interested in my content. All of that is way outside my comfort zone!
I’ve gone from being a Pathways curmudgeon to a Pathways evangelist. I like the new program. I hope you give Pathways a chance to challenge you. Get started and find your own ... uh, well, path.
James Wantz, DTM is a member of three clubs in Oregon. He is the 2017-2018 District 7 public relations manager and a Pathways Guide. He is also the 2015-2016 D7 recipient of the Herb C. Stude Award for educational service.