When I became the President of my Club back in 2000 - 2001, I knew little about the Distinguished Club program and cared even less. I just wanted our club to have the best meetings we could have and meet the immediate needs of our members. It would be nice for our club to receive a designation like "Distinguished Club," but beyond the marketing benefits I didn't see any connection between the goals required for the Distinguished Club program and direct benefits to our members.
Yet today I realize that for individuals and organizations to be effective, they must set goals and monitor progress towards those goals. The educational and leadership goals for individual members were carefully thought out by Toastmasters International to guide them through a specific developmental path of skill-building in speaking and leadership. The awards like CTM are not just empty recognition's, but provide benchmarks for members to monitor their progress. Toastmasters is about continually learning and striving to improve.
I also realize Toastmasters' organizational goals are fundamentally about benefiting individual members--though it may not seem like it at first. There are two sets of goals: (1) educational; and (2) membership.
Toastmasters continually pushes members to achieve educational goals. Being pushed and challenged to become better speakers and leaders is why we joined in the first place. Toastmasters wants individuals to self-actualize and thus better in a better position to make contributions to society.
Continually increasing membership is critical in maintaining a sufficient club size to be able to run effective meetings, and also we in Toastmasters feel so strongly about the benefits of membership that we want to provide this training opportunity to as many people as possible.
When I first joined the Money Talks Toastmasters club here in Area E3 in July, 1998, I was a bit skeptical of how Toastmasters could develop "leadership" skills. All I saw happen were people running meetings once a week. What's the big deal? How much leadership can you learn from just running a meeting?
A lot. One thing you quickly learn from being in Toastmasters is that it's a nonprofit organization, whose success depends on the volunteer efforts of its members. The most difficult leadership role has to be persuading people to volunteer their time and efforts in today's hectic society. And the jump in leadership challenge increases dramatically when you move on from leading meetings to becoming a Club Officer.
We can't achieve our goals unless we help each other
I know that it is hard to balance, work, family, hobbies, training and education? believe me, I know! But what you get out of an activity is only as good as what you put into it. As club officers you are called upon to lead, which means to serve your club members. You are called upon to ever keep your eye on our goals, to continually push members to achieve their next award, and to continually recruit new members so that we can provide the benefits of Toastmasters to more and more people. Let's give it that extra 10%, not even necessarily more than that, but just that little extra to honor our commitments as officers, serve our members, and fulfill the Toastmasters mission.