For IT professionals like me, updates and upgrades are the name of the game. Nothing stays the same, so keeping up with technology is required to remain competitive. “Change is good,” I have announced on more than one occasion, often in the direction of colleagues struggling to adjust. Agile. Flexible. Adaptable. These are words I often used to describe myself.
Then came the Pathways learning experience. Instead of jumping in with both feet and seeing it as a chance to supercharge my growth and development, I froze. I resisted the new digital format. The old program was my security blanket, and I was like a 3-year-old who wasn’t ready to give it up. As our club president, I “talked the talk” and promoted the program, but because I did nothing more than deliver my Level 1 Ice Breaker, I was definitely not "walking the walk." I kept finding excuses not to make progress. I was too busy. I couldn't remember my password. Blah, blah, blah. I was stuck.
As time stretched from the delivery of my first Pathways speech, I became bored and frustrated. I considered the possibility that I had outgrown Toastmasters altogether. While planning my exit strategy, I watched a fellow member begin to fully embrace the new program. She was not only consistently delivering speeches, but she was sharing her positive experience with Pathways and inviting us to join her. She was growing by leaps and bounds, and I had a front-row seat to her amazing transformation.
Her contagious joy and excitement about Pathways reminded me of the way I felt when I first joined Toastmasters. Back then, everything I did was out of my comfort zone—taking on a meeting role, delivering a prepared speech, and eventually becoming a club officer. With every stretch beyond the familiar, I learned something new about myself. I gained confidence. I made new friends. I missed the energy and excitement of those days.
And then it hit me. I had become complacent. I had stopped stretching. I was the cause of my own frustration and boredom. Thankfully, I also had the cure! I decided to give Pathways another try. With my Toastmasters password memorized, I logged in. I completed Level 1 of my path, then Level 2. I attended Pathways training. I read the Frequently Asked Questions. I volunteered to be the Pathways champion for our club, supporting other members and encouraging them to join me on my journey. Once I made the decision to release the old and grab hold of the new, my passion for Toastmasters returned and with it the realization that my opportunity for growth in Toastmasters is limitless.
Here is my advice for officers and members who find themselves stuck. Although the first step into anything new can be intimidating, life-changing growth takes place when we feel the fear and uncertainty but take that first step anyway. Trust me when I say that you are on the cusp of an adventure of a lifetime.
Tips for Officers:
- Lead by example. An officer who is making consistent progress in the Pathways program will inspire and motivate club members.
- Offer support. Share tips and tricks with others who may be struggling.
- Announce program enhancements. The release of new features will continually improve program quality. Share these positive changes with your club.
Tips for Members:
- Be consistent. As with any new tool or program, the more you use it, the more comfortable and familiar it will become.
- Utilize resources. There are resources available on the Toastmasters International website and on most district and division websites. Seek help from club members who may be a few steps ahead of you in the process.
- Understand the benefits. If you’re not quite ready to commit, learn more about the 11 paths and how they can lead to the development of more than 300 new competencies.
Watch the video below to discover how the skills you learn in Pathways can help enhance your career.
Lorinne Griswold is an IT Solution Architect for Chevron in San Ramon, California. She is past club president and current vice president education of ChevMasters, one of Chevron’s corporate Toastmasters clubs.