This is the next post in this series for my Toastmasters assignment – Write a Compelling Blog. (You can read the other posts here.) In today’s post, I talk about a lesson Toastmasters taught me about stepping outside the box.
Lesson No 5
Variety IS the Spice of Life
Ok. Toastmasters didn’t teach me that new and exciting experiences make life more interesting. I’ve known that for a long time. When I was 14, it drove my poor mother nuts having to deal with me moving things around in her kitchen. I was always experimenting with more efficient places to put things, and she was always struggling to find what she was looking for. This often got me into trouble but didn’t stop me trying to make kitchen chaos coherent.
I’m still a victim of my desires for ordered structure. We’ve been in our new home for just over three years and I’m still experimenting with the perfect place to put ‘things’ in my own kitchen, much to Dean’s frustration. (But his irritation just makes me giggle.)
I’m full of these types of (little) idiosyncrasies. They are that specific something that makes me different, but I’m not sure what it is that I like most – the order and efficiency or the absence of monotony.
That warrants more thought, however, I am leaning towards my predilection for variety.
In my post What Toastmasters Taught Me About Teamwork, I spoke about the variety of members that can be found in clubs across the world and said that clubs are filled with people from all different types of backgrounds, cultures, and religions and to be perfectly honest, Toastmasters has not taught me about the incredible variety that makes up mankind. I spent years teaching our girls that it’s our differences that make the world a very interesting place in which to live. One of my favourite questions I would ask when they were growing up was: “If we all liked the same thing and wore the same clothes, wouldn’t the world be boring?” This parenting idiosyncrasy of mine was not lost on my children, and I say that not only with pride but also with 100% certainty.
Do you like to be different, to stand out in the crowd? What about variety? Do you like to do the same thing the same way, over and over and over? Or do you prefer to have a little variety, to try new and interesting things?
Could you imagine attending a meeting, any type of meeting, and the agenda was exactly the same as it was last time? Ok, sometimes in business this can’t be avoided, but in Toastmasters it can. How about attending a meeting every two weeks and the only difference between the first meeting in January and the last meeting in December was the date?
Personally, I’d be bored out of my mind, so in Toastmasters the executive officer responsible for producing the meeting program – the agenda – is encouraged to make the meeting exciting, to shake it up, be different – question the status quo (if you will) – and ensure members enjoy their Toastmasters experience.
Ralph C. Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters International said:
We learn best in moments of enjoyment.
How true are those seven words?
As the member of our club’s executive team responsible for our meeting program, I do try to incorporate new and exciting ways of approaching what we will do for the evening. We meet once a month and, of course, there are items we must have on our agenda – essential elements integral to all Toastmasters meetings – but there is nothing to say we can’t approach these in a different or unique way.
And we do.
It’s those contrasts, those little idiosyncrasies that make our club different, but how they are pulled together and ordered for a little over two hours still remains my responsibility. I’ve been doing the agendas since July last year, and I’ve had so much fun ‘pushing the envelope’ and provide our members with the challenges they have come to expect in our club.
Last Thursday night was no exception.
When our Secretary distributed our meeting minutes yesterday, the first comment in her email was:
What an inspiring and fun evening.
Thank you, Shirley – you made my day. Yes, I had a little smile to myself even though I can’t take the credit for how our members approach their meeting assignments.
I am so proud to be the executive team member who has that responsibility and with only three meetings until my tenure finishes, I will keep in mind that if you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten*, and ensure those final programs continue to epitomise that variety truly is the spice of life.
You can read what Quote Investigator has to say about the authorship of this saying here.