Fresh Breath of Hurricane

Toastmasters is growing as an extraordinary place where leaders are made. All organisations are like families, and this one holds a special sentimental place in my heart. Toastmasters is the family I have known for years, introduced to me by Elizabeth and Gary.  I see all of you as aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters. Any members, new or otherwise, are quickly adopted. 

Friends such as Margaret and David allowed me to grow into the “Energiser Bunny” or a “Fresh Breath of Hurricane.” This transformation is not about me – I feel excited about the opportunities for other people to grow in the same way. But I do feel the need to acknowledge this extraordinary creative freedom. 

What is it about this environment, which takes a shy girl and morphs her into a confident lady? It’s the encouragement. We commend something positive about someone, then suggest one subjective optional change, then we celebrate another strong point. Whether it’s speeches or general life, we encourage one another. Points for improvement were crucial. My favourite friends are the ones who can suggest changes, and let me consider the changes, but still give me space to develop my own decisions. Everyone else should receive that same freedom. 

There is freedom to try anything. We all recognise our human complexities, as opportunities to learn. Gen Y leaders are now surfacing with the support of wise experienced mentors. I found myself doing designs, web site maintenance, promotional speeches, and MC speaking for a recent conference. This is not a bragging point. I went into these tasks with little confidence in how to successfully implement these projects. It took balanced encouraging evaluation from all friends, to learn these new skills.  

I can't help but take on a unique perspective of Toastmasters. Both my grandparents spoke at the conference. I wish that stage could be shared with each one of us, all telling our stories. We are just one of many stories to tell. I was glad to share enlightening conversations with other members who explained their experiences.  

What is it like, seeing family on stage? It is comforting for all. Their journeys, both distant and recent, shaped what we are today. We can see the context of an organisation we are part of. History is the background of where we were and what we can create. It is a heritage shared by all. 

One story, told my Gary, inspires me the most. He gave insight into Elizabeth's early days in the organisation. Elizabeth joined as a member at a time when women just were not welcome. I never take for granted the ability to stand on a stage and say something. Women today are still asking the question of how to get involved in leadership. We can only imagine the uphill battle women faced decades ago.  Toastmasters is now seeing the opportunities for all sorts of individuals - be it women, Gen Y, and other groups.  

Elizabeth spoke about something which brought a tear to our eyes. Elizabeth's toast focused on the support friends showed her as she battled cancer. I would have added gratitude for the support given to the entire family. This year was the most terrifying time of my life. I didn't always know how to handle recent struggles, but my Toastmasters friends always knew what to do.  

It's not all doom and gloom. We are able to have fun and celebrate good times. I miraculously enjoyed another exciting conference with my grandparents. I am still learning life lessons from them every day. Fresh memories were created with all friends. To put it simply, we partied.  

Where do we go from here? Somewhere completely new. Try something new. Step out of your comfort zone, just like I did. The inclusion of Gen Y was a powerful move for D70 to make. It showed they were serious about creating the future.

I'm excited! Are you? 


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