The time has come to write the final chapter in my term as the Toastmasters International President. It’s often said that no matter how much you prepare to take on a role, you are never fully prepared, and I couldn’t agree more. How can any leader, whether they be a club officer, District leader, Region Advisor, or member of the Board, prepare to lead through an entire year of a global pandemic? Yet that is what we did. In my inaugural address I stated that “leaders don’t run away from a challenge, they run toward it” and you did. You found new and innovative ways to lead, motivate, and support each other.
I witnessed as the global community of Toastmasters grew closer. Our members were no longer siloed in their clubs or Districts; the world became a keystroke away. We often tell members they are not just a member of the club, but also a member of a global organization, and this year we experienced that more than ever. There was a cultural evolution as members explored new countries, new cultures, and new languages. The world has become a smaller place thanks in part to technology.
The ability of World Headquarters to adapt their procedures and processes to meet the changing needs of our members in this time of uncertainty is a testament to their dedication. A special thank you to the training team and convention team for being able to quickly shift from “the way it has always been” to “the way it needs to be.”
We often tell members they are not just a member of the club, but also a member of a global organization.
It was not an easy year, or the type of year any of us had hoped for, and there were bumps along the way. We missed out on many experiences we were accustomed to, but we gained a lot as well. I am proud of what we accomplished this year by taking advantage of the opportunities we had rather than focusing on the challenges. Each of you proved to be an epicenter of action this year.
American author Pat Conroy stated, “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” The journey that I have traveled with you as your International President, the things that I have witnessed, and the changes that I have experienced will be forever etched in my mind. It was my honor and privilege to serve as your 2020–2021 International President. Thank you.
Richard E. Peck, DTM