Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An Issue of Commitment - 23rd October

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes... but no plans.”
                                                                                                  Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005)
Our last Algoa Toastmasters Club meeting seemed destined to be a bit of a flop – but we should have known better. Despite the fact that, for a variety of reasons, members had been unable to fulfil their planned speaking commitments, and then at the last moment, technology let us down – as can be its wont – we found ourselves looking at a meeting comprising two prepared speeches – and an Educational.
Serendipity is an amazing thing though, is it not?
We enjoyed Deborah Stephenson’s CC5 speech (Your body speaks) entitled Green gold is my story – and then we were treated to some delicious green gold olives.
Advanced speaker, Reinhardt Botha (AC3 – The Entertaining Speaker manual) regaled us with his humorous speech, The Perils of PhD Parenting.

The highlight of the evening happened, however, when our VP Membership, Antoinette Baatjes did her educational speech on Keeping the Commitment and proceeded to induct two new members, Gideon Smith and Atherick Bott.
Part of the Induction ceremony involves the inductees reciting a pledge and then members of the club reciprocating by stating a similar pledge. Over the past fifteen plus years I have declaimed it many times, but Antoinette’s educational brought its value back to me so powerfully. For those of you who may have forgotten it, here it is:
As a member of Toastmasters International and my club, I promise:
  • To attend club meetings regularly;
  • To prepare all my speeches to the best of my ability, basing them on Manual projects;
  • To prepare for and fulfil meeting assignments;
  • To provide fellow members with helpful, constructive evaluations;
  • To help the club maintain a positive, friendly environment, so that all can learn and grow;
  • To serve my club as an officer when called upon to do so;
  • To treat my fellow club members and our guests with respect and courtesy;
  • To bring guests to club meetings so they can see the benefits of Toastmasters membership;
  • To adhere to the guidelines and rules for Toastmasters educational and recognition programs;
  • To maintain honest and ethical standards during the conduct of all Toastmasters activities.
As much as these ten promises apply to our membership of Toastmasters, they also apply to other areas of our lives where commitment can mean the difference between success and failure. Broadly speaking, our commitment can be divided into four categories:
Participation – This area covers the first three promise areas of regular attendance and preparation. I am reminded of the Nike slogan, Just do it! All that is required for success is that every member arrives and fulfils his commitments (or makes timeous arrangements if he can’t)
 Interaction – Success seldom happens in isolation. After all, we are at Toastmasters because of a common goal. Our evaluations must be constructive and encouraging. This ensures a positive growth environment for members – and the club.
Fellowship – This speaks to the concept of mutual respect and service. Being called upon to serve as a Club Officer is like ‘paying your dues’ – giving something back for the services rendered to you by others.
Creating a Pleasant and Stimulating Atmosphere – Continuation of a club happens when members share what they have discovered. So too, abiding by standards determined by our parent organisation ensures a feeling of security, which is conducive to growth.
 It’s very easy to forget why we joined Toastmasters; or to think that it is a one-way relationship: we pay our dues (literally) and in exchange we expect to get the skills and the Toastmasters qualification. I found the following, which really sums it up for me:
“Commitment, by its nature, frees us from ourselves and, while it stands us in opposition to some, it joins us with others similarly committed. Commitment moves us from the mirror trap of the self-absorbed with the self to the freedom of a community of shared values.”
                                                                                                    Michael Lewis
So, let’s think about what we expect from Toastmasters, but let’s also think about what we need to give in order for our goals to be reached.
Until next time
Ricky Woods

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