What’s one of the scariest words in the English language? Change!
Such a small word. Why does it often cause consternation? Change is all around us—it occurs every day. Our children grow up, our friends retire, the weather is ever-changing and our obligations, routines and outlook all change over time. As the poet Alfred Tennyson wrote, “The old order changeth, yielding place to new.”
But when change is immediate and massive, our anxiety level goes through the roof. A Toastmasters friend recently conducted an unscientific poll among members in his region and found that the mention of the Pathways learning experience—Toastmasters’ new education program—elicits this type of reaction, especially from seasoned members. A few of the responses: “Great—they’re changing things again;” “What’s wrong with the program we have?” and “It sounds way too complicated to me.”
But other veteran members were more positive, writing such comments as, “The old system has run its course and I’m looking forward to a new challenge” and “I’m excited to get into Pathways deeper and see where it leads me.”
Pathways will benefit members in many ways. It is tailored to the individual’s needs and goals and enables you to develop 300 different skills you can apply to the world outside Toastmasters. The criteria for speech evaluations are more rigorous and expansive, allowing speakers to benefit from more specific, useful feedback.
“Change, although scary, is important if we are to progress in life.”
I heard of one member who shared his Pathways goals with his work supervisor. The supervisor agreed to incorporate those goals into the employee’s performance assessment and tie future pay and promotions to the member’s Pathways success. What a great idea. Many of us would be wise to share our Pathways goals with our supervisors.
Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” To stay relevant in these times, Toastmasters International has chosen to lead us all down new paths. Change, although scary, is important if we are to progress in life. Although the survey mentioned earlier was unscientific, a majority of members expressed curiosity and excitement about Pathways. Embrace the change and approach the program with an open mind. Think of it as an opportunity to learn, grow and experience new challenges.
Change is inevitable, and it’s here. I joined Toastmasters 28 years ago and have benefitted greatly from the organization’s traditional education program. But Pathways will become available in my region in the next few months, and I could not be more thrilled. I am excited about the opportunity to grow—about the possibilities Pathways represents for all of us. As International President, I invite you to join me in the exciting journey ahead!
BALRAJ ARUNASALAM, DTM