One Year Later

It is done. My term as President has come to a close.

One year ago, I became the President of Surrey Business Friends Toastmasters. I was sought out by Jamie MacDonald himself, who swore multiple people had nominated me. My first reaction was, “what are they thinking?!”

Looking back, I felt like I was such a kid to how I feel now. (I will probably say the exact same thing in one years’ time). It felt daunting taking the reins from Jamie, whom had found a way to pump up the club after a huge lull. I had a rough idea of how busy my schedule would get in the next several months, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it. Would I be able to feel like I’ve done my best in addition all my other life responsibilities? (Re: work, school). Would I be able to handle the change?

In the end, I decided to go for it. I jumped into this post with a sense of eagerness, excitement and bewilderment. The road ahead of me was paved with unknowns, but I felt confident with the exec team I had. I felt I would find a way of my own, and I would swim.

I almost drowned.

Everything seemed to hit soon after the term began. Within a couple of months I found out our rent had been increased; we had paid nearly double over the past few months. We had to scramble to plead our case, and without the help of an outstanding member, we wouldn’t have been able to renegotiate our rates. We breathed a sigh of relief, but our financial numbers were hit hard.

We lost members. New members whom I had hoped would stick around longer to gain more of the Toastmasters’ experience. Veteran members whom I had the pleasure to see grow and had made great contributions. The club ended up losing the VP Membership, VP of Public Relations, and the Treasurer in a few short months. I wanted to find a way to convince them to stay, but one by one circumstances in their own lives forced them to leave. I knew it was (is?) a common challenge for a morning club and I felt powerless to stop it.

I’ll be forever grateful: the remaining executives went above and beyond their call of duty. It became one big giant jumbled mess of responsibilities spread out over all the remaining members. They never balked, they never blamed, and they never (outwardly) questioned why or how on earth I had let things get this bad.

Talking helps. Towards the latter half of the year I sat down for some heart-to-heart talks with a couple of veteran Toastmasters’. There was no miracle, there was no aha moment, but regardless I still felt like a bit of weight was lifted from my shoulders when the conversations ended. More than once I walked away and still felt like a failure, but at the very least talking with someone else helped.

I was uncomfortable, many times. They stay stepping outside of your comfort zone helps. Did it help? Yes and no. No in the sense I was unable to rise to the challenge to be the great leader I had seen in others. But yes, yes in the sense I was able to map out the kind of leader I am at this point in time (even if it’s close to a non-leader) so I will know where to go from here. I will know better for next time.

Where will the Toastmasters’ road lead me now? I’m not sure. I heard from Paula (I’ve forgotten how she heard of this herself) is the ideal route is to spend one year as an executive and then one year “off” so you can rest and recuperate. Coupled with my own personal reasons of what is happening in my outside life (re again: work, school) that will be the route I shall have to take. No executive position next year, no plans to defend my championship title, and only vague plans to start scouting out Advanced Clubs in the near future. I’ve got a few personal parts of my life to figure out first.

To all those that helped right to the bitter end, you have my everlasting thanks. To all those amazing individuals I’ve met this past year, there are no words to explain. To everyone else, I’ll see you around sometime.

Happy Canada Day!

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2 thoughts on “One Year Later

  1. Vivien, there are always circumstances that are beyond our control. It saddens me that you seem to think of yourself as a failure in this capacity, and though I wasn’t in your club it just seems to be that so much of what happened would have happened whether you or Joe Blow was president. I know exactly how you feel though, I really do. but in the end, there really is only so much we can do. I have a lot of respect for you Viv because I know how much you care about TM. I’m glad you’re taking a year off. You deserve some time for reflection. btw, Margaret Page was the one who told me that. 🙂

    • Paula, many thank you’s for your support this year and understanding I’m still playing the game of “coulda, shoulda.” It means a lot, it really does.

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