Unexpected Lessons

bluelogoA speech given a couple of months ago by a fellow Toastmaster had a profound effect on me. I find myself thinking often about what she had spoken of, and many times I thought about forwarding the advice to others. It was her 10th speech project (Speaking to Inspire) and so meaningful and inspiring. It was about the 7 things we need to let go of in our lives and I wrote them down. I wanted to create a poster and hang it above my desk to help me remember and stay aware. I’ll share them with you further down.

As I thought about how much that message meant to me, I reflected on how much I’ve learned from everyone since I’ve been in Toastmasters; it’s been more than just learning to speak with confidence, or to listen, and evaluate.

From watching advanced leaders I’ve learned (and am still learning):

  • how to build trust and teams (thanks Lori and Merri)
  • how to run a meeting and parliamentary procedures (thanks Paul)
  • how to build enthusiasm and remain positive (thanks Brian)
  • the art of using humour (thanks Mark)
  • how to lead by example (thanks Al)
  • how to encourage and inspire (thanks Merri)
  • the value of servant leadership

Thanks everyone who gave me an opportunity to learn.

From watching advanced speakers I’ve learned how to pause, how to move with purpose, how to use the stage, how to use humour to connect with the audience, and how to use vocal variety and pitch to get my message across. And to always have a message; give the audience something to take away with them. And that’s what my fellow Toastmasters have done. They’ve given me so much knowledge that I took away with me. Some small things such as: it takes 21 days to develop a habit (thanks Debbie), some larger things such as the inspiring tenth speech given by my fellow Toastmaster (thanks Jane).

In between, I learned:

  • how to select the perfect dog for your family (thanks Ron)
  • why Canada geese fly in a V shape, and how they support each other in flight (there’s a lot we can learn from them) (thanks Lori)
  • about the re-oxygenation of Lake Simcoe (thanks Ron)
  • where the expression “never let them get your goat” came from (thanks Eric)
  • how to handle stress (thanks Lynne)
  • how to sell a solution instead of a product (thanks Craig)
  • how to create a vision board (thanks Monica)
  • how to identify weeds local to the area (thanks Bart)
  • about the inequality of power in Ontario (which has to do with electricity, not politics) (thanks Rita)
  • how proportional voting works (thanks Paul)
  • how to make plum pudding (thanks Nancy)
  • about Victorian architectural designs in Hamilton (thanks Marlena)
  • what’s really in Haggis (thanks Iain)

So, even if I had just joined Toastmasters and never said a word, I have still learned so much from so many wonderful people.

The profound message I heard a few months ago, that I am often conscious of, is the 7 things we need to give up (thanks Jane):

  1. Let go of toxic people
  2. Let go of past regrets
  3. Let go of the need to be right
  4. Let go of feeling sorry for yourself
  5. Let go of negative thoughts
  6. Let go of limiting beliefs
  7. Let go of worrying about the future.

Jane challenged us to track our thoughts for 72 hours. It’s been a month for me, and I’m still checking my thoughts.

While I’m in this grateful state of mind, I think the most gratitude must go to the person who brought me into Toastmasters, which ultimately led to me developing confidence and a network of incredible friends. He was my mentor in the club, as well as my mentor in ways he may not realize, as I’ve watched his professionalism, his discretion and his ethics, and I’m still learning. Thanks Paul!

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The Worst Decisions

I hate making decisions; I’m a fence-sitter at heart. When I’m forced into making a decision, I second guess myself for days afterwards. I have doubts and they can be crippling. That’s how I feel though, it’s not how I act. People who meet me in meetings would describe me as decisive, opinionated, confident. Which is true? They both are to some extent. The first one is internal, and the second one is external. You don’t always get to see what’s really inside some people.

downloadThere are people worse than me though; those who can’t even pretend to push themselves. They can’t make a decision and they’ve given up trying. people-who-have-an-indecisive-personality

Then there are those who will not make decisions so they won’t have to be accountable. Nobody can ever accuse them of making a bad decision; because they never make decisions. If things go wrong or don’t work out, they can point the finger at whoever made the decision, safe in the knowledge that the fingers will never be pointed at them. Let someone else take that risk. The people who do this, consciously or subconsciously, are much harder to recognize. I’ll point my finger at them though. It’s easy to abdicate your responsibility and let someone else take the chance and the risk. Then you can resent them if they fail, (but subconsciously you’ll resent them if they succeed, because you’ll feel it should have been you).its-not-my-fault

If there’s one thing I’ve learned though, is that the worse decision you’ll ever make, is the one you never make.

As the Dalai Lama said, Great results and great growth involve great risks.

  • Right or Left?
  • Chicken or Beef?
  • Mutual Funds or Bonds?
  • Red or White?

Just make a damn decision, take a chance. It’s always better than doing nothing.

 

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