As my term as International President comes to an end, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve for the last 12 months. It has been my absolute honor and delight.
I’ve begun looking back at how the year has gone. What went well? What could we have done differently? I’m reminded that reflection requires separation.
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In 2014, I ran unsuccessfully for the position of International Director. Thanks to the encouragement of many Toastmasters, I quickly made up my mind to run again in two years. And so shortly after my unsuccessful run, I began reaching out to people who had observed me during the campaign to ask for their feedback. What had I done well? What did I need to improve? What could I do differently to gain the trust and respect of our members to allow me the honor of being on the Board of Directors? However, I quickly realized that the advice they were giving me was not exactly what I needed.
I think that was because of two reasons. One is I was still hurt at the loss. I was still emotionally processing what had occurred. And perhaps they sensed that. The second reason, and probably the more important one, is not enough time had gone by. It was too close to the election. The people I asked for feedback needed time to process it as much as I did.
My experience is that reflection requires separation in both time and emotional space.
For me, the best way to reflect is to write down notes immediately after an event. Think about what happened and what the impact was, and include emotional impacts as well. Let those notes sit for a while. Only go back to them when you are no longer emotionally tied to the event and there’s been a sufficient amount of time for you to process what occurred. When I asked those same individuals a year later what I could have done differently, the advice I got was spot-on. It was exactly what I needed to hear to improve my performance, to improve the way I came across to members so that I would be able to serve on the Board of Directors.
What about you? Many of you have recently finished leadership terms at the club or the District level. Write down some notes, think about what you have learned, but then let some time pass before you look at them again to allow for deeper reflection. My experience is that reflection requires separation in both time and emotional space.
Once again, it has been my absolute delight and honor to serve as your International President. I will always be here for Toastmasters.
Matt Kinsey, DTM
Matt Kinsey, DTM is the 2022—2023 International President of Toastmasters International. Learn more about him on the Board of Directors page.