Write about the last time you left your comfort zone.
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I love a good comfort zone. It’s akin to snuggling up in bed on a cold winters’ night, with warm socks, flannel sheets, and a heated blanket.
There’s something wonderful about being so warm and snuggly.
But stepping away from one’s comfort is where growth happens, and for me, Toastmasters has always provided me with a wonderful growth opportunity.
I remember being so nervous before presenting my first speech (the Icebreaker) that I was in tears and I needed a little extra time to console myself. My heart was pounding so hard and so fast I genuinely thought something was wrong and sooner or later someone would be calling for an ambulance.
My palms were sweaty, my throat began to close and my larynx constricted so much I didn’t recognise my own voice.
I kept thinking “What am I doing here?” and “Why would I do this to myself?” And then those thoughts and questions turned to “How can I get out of this?” “What if I pretend to faint?”
Seriously! I was on the verge of walking out and never returning.
But I didn’t. I told myself I could do it. I calmed my nerves, steeled my resolve, tucked in my chin and stood at the front of the room and delivered the speech I had spent a week preparing.
And I never looked back although, from delivering speeches to taking on leadership roles and mentoring new members, I have always felt inadequate.
In retrospect I know that inadequacy was of my own doing, it was just a lack of self-confidence that caused me to think and feel the way I did. But . . . the beauty of Toastmasters is the overwhelming number of experienced members willing to offer advice and assistance. All you need do is ask.
Sometimes you don’t even need to ask, help is freely offered.
Over the past 10 years, I have had the privilege of being mentored by some amazing members, other Toastmasters who not only assisted but also pushed me out of a zone that was akin to a comfortable butt groove on a well-worn couch. And it’s a big butt groove.
Without their prodding, their (sometimes not so gentle) pushing, I feel I never would have achieved the dizzying heights of success I am so proud I accomplished.
Some of those things include:
- Working hard for my club, area and district.
- Winning speech contests, and becoming a District Champion.
- Introducing new members.
- Mentored members – both new and not so new.
- Sponsoring a new club.
- Being that Club’s Charter President.
- Being voted Toastmaster of the Year (twice).
- And finally, becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster.
Toastmasters has always pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’m ok with that.
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Read more about Bloganuary here.