My technical aims took second seat.
My weekends were filled.
At times my wallets were emptied for conferences,treats and travel.
My parents missed me in week ends.
Above all plenty of my time got buried for this new love.
Those were few questions in my mind and here I am for a retrospective session on whether to be active toastmaster or not to be!
Two and half years back I saw a internal blog post from a colleague who wrote about toastmasters linked me with wordsmiths. Thanks to him If he hadnt taken that two minutes to post it many minutes of my life wouldnt have been fruitful.
I enjoyed every moment of the first TM meeting i attended. I felt like this is the place which i have been searching for all these years.
But believe me I never thought that decision would give me 50 odd new friends, and redefine some of my existing relationship
. Wordsmiths was a budding club and i enquired about other clubs in the city . Attended Chennai toastmasters as a guest for a month to decide which club to join. After much thought I even pushed Ananth to join wordsmiths with an aim of completing the course:) faster since it had less members.
I started of well winning TT as guests (Abraham ..is it part of your trap ?:)) And my ice breaker i proved them i am a good speaker already and what are you going to do to me(Yep i was good ..People said me i was good at school college..how can TM help me?). My goodness now i rate myself as an average speaker. Thats a symbol of what toastmasters has taught me. I was prompt for 3 months, got busy at work started being irregular in club. And our club also had a tough time with meetings being cancelled due to lack of quorum.
Thanks to Towers club member Ram Prasad.It was almost a years break and the club moved close to my house and shifted their timings to saturday. There started the second phase of my toastmastering experience. Restarted my projects again. Understood the objective of each project and gave my 4,5 and 6 with great personal satisfaction. Till this time I was a prompt toastmaster who worked on his projects well but there was nothing more. It continued so for a while and after sometime i became one of the senior member in a club of 7 since many left us. We were forced to run a show and draft and deliver speeches. I didnt quite enjoy it.And my protectionist parents warned not to take up any part in club office(Forgive their ignorance..today they are the most happiest people in the world for me being a toastmaster).
Contests used to come and go at these times. But i always avoided them for two reasons. 1. I wasnt good 2.I cant give more time and money to TM. 2 hours and 2000 Rs..Nothing more:)
With June 2009 a new phase the third one started.Me and Ananth were the senior members and due to my interest in PR i started as VP PR in my club. Ananth’s quest was even more and he started attending 2-3 clubs in a week. Also our club added few more new members and we had some experienced members like Hari, Aziz joining us which brought a wave of change and new air in wordsmiths.I did complete my CC in June 20 and I relished every moment of it.
- I discovered a new self in my self
. Why did i felt so good that day? Considering that I havent valued certificates marks and awards given by others in the last 8 years of my life,I pondered why this CC and TM was special to me. Its because i love it, I cherish it and I have worked and trying my best here.
In this third phase i fell in love with the people in toastmasters more than the toastmasters. I got connected to a whole new world. There were people to ask where are you if i dont send them a mail for a week. There were people to ask you where are you if i dont show up 5 minutes before the meeting. There were people to give feedback and cheer me up. Ahh! Who are these people..?
How do they synchronize with my frequency? They are 20-30-40 60 70 and 80 and but everyone of us were like a kid when it comes to the two hours in toastmasters. The cheer leaders who led the area were two people were just in and out of the colleges. That inspired me a lot! I participated in the contest and discovered an evaluator in me. I am a good one too! You can count on me now!
I got the courage to say “I am good”. In this third phase i started losing more time to toastmasters. I gained a little but i must admit that i lost more time due to ineffective planning and execution.
Then came the next phase. I took up a more responsible role VP-Education and had big plans. Ananth was our president and we were a young team and we had zillion dreams. But the toastmaster world had different plans. With the help of toastmasters experience Ananth found a better role at work and moved to states. That left me taking up charge as president in wordsmiths toastmaster club.I had doubts.
I am a passionate speaker but can i become enterprising and excellent one.? I am committed labourer can i be a diligent leader?
In this fourth phase I had dreams of winning and making it to the ovations in international speech contest. I have this dream to become an enterprising speaker and inspiring leader. Things started to shape up. We had one more experienced toasmaster Divya joining us VP edu , our membership took a sudden high because of all the hard work Zac and his team did in the past. I lost the contest but I was happier to lose it to a good competition.
As we planned with Ananth our aim was to improve the quality and the quantity will follow.
But now I see that quantity is here and has overtaken quality.
I am seeing a new me in myself who is capable of standing up to crisis rather than moaning about it. The rise of my club gives me new hopes and responsibilities. I stuck gold when ovations conference chair Nina asked me whether i can be part of Ovations PR committee. Its when I decided that the next six months i am going to give me overdose of toastmasters and make some energy for the action ahead.
But today when my dirty clothes are still rinsed and when i was chatting with fellow toasmasters i just had this question “To be or to be not be” and hence this long ramble.
Man toastmasters had
1. Made me good speaker
2. Good listener and reader
3. Budding leader
And most important of all
It had taught me to take failure gracefully and instilled the art of feelling like a winner after a major failure (Yep I told myself this time i learned how not to lose and my chances are better next time)
And the deciding factor was all these lovely people. If i am going to list them then this already lengthy post will extend even more. But all those smiling,energetic,egoless enthusiatic minds makes me feel like a millionaire.Toastmasters is a way of life. Mix it in right proportions with your life and you have a winner in your contest called life.
Toastmasters in chennai You rock!YOu are my most valuable asset of my life.
There is never a no in toastmasters! “To be or not to be” — If i am not a toasmaster then it means that i am not breathing any more.
TM Deepak Pandian!