Today was my first Division Toastmasters Conference. I had no idea what to expect. If I am truly honest I hadn't really thought about it too much. I wasn't competing. I wasn't helping. I was simply going because life has taught me to say "Yes" before engaging brain. A practice that has resulted in so much fun, and today proved to be up there with the best of them!
An 8:30 am start on a Saturday morning made me rethink my life lessons. Fortunately for my brain I only had to be there physically and not cognitively. Others will testify, my brain was still fast asleep on arrival, blissfully unaware I had scheduled in a serious conversation about adding a 'Get Out' clause for any activity beginning before noon on a weekend.
A conversation that was quickly kicked off the agenda by the big mighty boots of our friends Inspiration, Courage and Wisdom. Where else can you get so close to so many amazingly skilled people who face fear in the eye, stand up as tall as a poppy and put their hearts and souls on the line for all of us to do with as we please? In return, we, the collective audience of so many wonderful individuals, put out our caring, helping hands to support and nurture everyone and anyone. Inspiration. Courage. Wisdom!
Having just read the book Crucial Conversations, which declares 9 out of 10 issues in your life at home or at work can be resolved by a crucial conversation, I was all the more aware of the challenges, choices & courage everyone was willingly putting themselves up against in order to better themselves. I take my hat off to you all.
By learning to listen & speak to one or many people with thought, skill and patience we can all get better at achieving our desired results in life. It's as simple as that. I haven't met anyone who still doesn't have a lot to learn. I have however, at today's wonderful Conference met so many good people who are putting their everything to do exactly this. People who want to be better leaders, better spouses, better business people, better volunteers. Being better at communicating under pressure is the best thing anyone can to do to be better at everything else.
I spent from 8:30 am until 5 pm listening to speeches on a Saturday. Let's be honest, on paper this appears painful, mundane and something to avoid at all costs! How so very wrong paper can be! The day was inspiring, educating & rewarding.
Towards the end of the day I found myself wondering why every man and his dog wasn't queuing to be in attendance. Not just to the Conference, but to Toastmasters in general. It costs me $55 every 6 months, plus $5 each time I attend. For this I get skilled help, support and all the positive encouragement I need to overcome some very personal challenges. I get to make mistakes with no consequence. I get to practice skills I didn't know existed. I get to learn that I can succeed despite once 'knowing' I could only fail.
I left with an overwhelming desire to bring my family and friends along to the next Conference. Come and see how to be happy! However, I am all too aware that everyone must decide for themselves. The people at this conference were there because they wanted to be there. None were there because their friend wanted them to be there. It is for this reason that I found myself overwhelmed with inspiration, courage and wisdom.
Thank you to all the volunteers and to each and everyone involved!
What a fun and rewarding day!