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Taking Risks

June 7, 2015

I learned a few things in all my years as a Toastmasters member.  Toastmasters focus is on continuous learning in small steps.  The numerous clubs provide a supportive environment for learning.  There’s the famous statement by the founder: we learn best in times of enjoyment.  In a Toastmasters club, you learn public speaking skills and leadership skills.  You learn by doing something that you’ve never done before.  It might be something that you find difficult, or something that you have avoided.  There’s your opportunity for learning.  You don’t learn by doing something that you already know how to do.  As Toastmasters often says: you have to get outside of your comfort zone.

In Toastmasters, the various roles on the club executive, from secretary to president, offer learning opportunities for leadership skills.  The election of officers in my club is coming up this week.  One of the members suggested that club officers might want to do the same executive role over again.  This is completely backwards.  Toastmasters is a place of learning, first and foremost.  The goal is not to run the club well.  The goal is to learn to run it well, whether you are secretary or president.  Learning is the key.  You will do badly at first.  You will make mistakes.  These are all part of learning.  Toastmasters provides the environment in which you can fail, in which you can make mistakes.  You will eventually discover how to run it well.  At that point, you should move on to another leadership role.  It’s time to let somebody else have the same learning opportunities that you had.

Toastmasters is not real life; it’s a game.  Mountain climbing is real life: you take real risks.  If you slip and fall off a cliff, you will die.  A game is different.  It’s not real life.  It’s training for real life.  A game provides a safe environment in which to fail or make mistakes.  Failure or mistakes are part of learning.  In a game, you can fail one day but come back the next day to play again.  That’s why games are essential to real life.


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