Toastmasters and Diet

You can start to lose weight several times throughout your life and buy every exercise machine you see on t.v. at 2am, but you only truly change your lifestyle once to lose the weight and keep the weight off forever.

If this saying is true for weight loss, is it possible that Toastmasters is like losing weight as well?

Definitely!

People join Toastmasters for a variety of reasons. The purpose they choose is similar to any diet regimen or the quest to lose weight. We all join hoping Toastmasters will change our lives by giving us that weekly exercise of practicing the fine art of public speaking. We hope the result will be more money, a promotion at work, conquering of fear, better relationships, fame and glory from the stage.

In dieting, only a few succeed with true health change over the long term. Maybe short gains are made, but they are quickly swallowed (sorry for the pun) by life getting in the way, normalcy, stress, change, boredom and routine. The result is we revert to our old ways by eating junk food, indulging in candy and carbs, and finding any excuse to put off exercise for another week.

Just like dieting, our commitment to improving our speaking skills can become hazy after only a few weeks of Toastmasters membership. The result from one missed meeting leads to another. Soon, we’re wondering why we are not improving as fast as we thought we would. The result is that more meetings are missed and eventually membership interest dissolves.

A Challenge for This Summer

The purpose of this blog post is to challenge you to do just one thing: Renew the interest you once had the day you joined Toastmasters by attending EVERY meeting of your Toastmaster club this summer and don’t give in to the temptation to miss meetings.

Of course, maybe you have a vacation coming up and you’ll have to miss. Or, maybe you’ll get sick and have to miss a week or two. Or, maybe you’ll get called out of town on a business trip.

These things happen. But, if you go into this summer thinking, “I know I’ll be missing some meetings,” you will wind up missing a LOT of meetings. If you set your mind to not missing ANY meetings, you will still miss one or two. And, that’s okay.

What’s Not Okay

Maybe you just joined your club a couple of months ago. You know how “the system” works now. You’ve made it past your Ice Breaker and have a few speeches under your belt. You’ve experienced being the Toastmaster of the day or an evaluator of a speech given by another member. Now you’ve settled in. What was once new and exciting has become routine.

The same exact thing happens next with gaining speaking skills as does with diets. You make some quick improvements that are obvious to you. Then, and after a couple of weeks, you stand on the scale and there’s no change in weight for two, three, four weeks! “What the HECK is going on???!!!” you yell to yourself.

Suddenly, you find that stray M&M on the front desk at work at the receptionist’s desk. You just can’t let that one M&M sit there forever in that bowl. Someone has to do something about it! It’s only just one M&M. How much harm could that do? “I’m not losing any more weight anyway,” you justify to yourself.

You know the rest of that story if you’ve ever tried to get in shape or go on a diet, right? I don’t need to have to go into more detail.

The same thing happens to Toastmasters members. You join. You give your Ice Breaker, and maybe another speech or two from the Competent Communicator manual. Everyone tells you how amazing you are! Then, you serve as the “ah” counter or timer, maybe even a few times.

Week after week goes by and you start thinking, “Geez, I’m grammarian again? What am I really getting out of these meetings? The Table Topics master screwed up again and now that’s two weeks in a row I didn’t even get called to the front of the room! Why can’t I just be scheduled for those roles that really challenge me like Toastmaster or speaker or chief evaluator? Pearl perceiver? C’mon, I’ve got clients to meet! Why can’t they just schedule me to be a speaker every other week so I can get through this manual and be done with it?”

Then come the temptations. A client has a problem that just can’t be left without fixing immediately. You want to offer top notch customer service, so your client takes precedence over the Toastmasters meeting.

Or, how about those sudden meetings? Your boss calls the team together 30 minutes before your Toastmasters club starts. You have to attend!

Or, you just don’t feel 100% today and you’re scheduled just as the timer for this meeting, so maybe someone else can fill that small role.

These and many other temptations to find any and every opportunity to NOT be present at an upcoming Toastmaster meetings are that last M&M in the dish at the receptionists desk. They eat away at you week after week until you’re not showing up at your club unless you are scheduled to be speaker, Toastmaster, evaluator or chief evaluator and even having to find a replacement for one or all of those positions the day of your meeting. Eventually, you’re showing up at only one meeting per month, if at all.

Don’t believe me? Think I’m being too harsh? Just look at the last five people in your club who have not been to a meeting in a month or who have quit entirely. How did it all start? That one M&M in the dish my friend…that one M&M in the dish.

Resist Temptation!

In relation to my weight loss example, well, you’re going to get nowhere fast if you give in to the opportunities put in your path that inspire you to not attend your Toastmasters club meeting.

My wife has lost almost 40 pounds over the past six months. Her biggest losses (successes) occurred after two full months of seeing no change in the scale. Even if you think you’re not progressing and that everything has become routine at your Toastmasters club, THIS is the time right this minute for you to change your mindset and set your goal to improve over the next YEAR, not just the next couple of weeks or months.

Turn away from that M&M! Realize you are making progress every single Toastmaster club meeting you attend. Your members will surely tell you so! Embrace the small roles and fulfill them with as much passion as you would as Toastmaster of the Day for a meeting.

Renew Your Commitment to Yourself

My challenge to you is this. Take a week or two off from attending your club. Go on vacation. Spend time with family. But, then, when you return, make a new pact with yourself. Schedule everything in your week around your Toastmasters club meeting. Tell your boss you will make more money for the company if they will support you in NEVER missing a club meeting due to work related reasons for a full year.

More importantly, have a talk with yourself and decide if you really want a life-changing experience of growing as a Toastmaster. Your speaking skills will improve beyond what you even imagined by being an active participant in a quality Toastmasters club. But, there is no quick fix. There is no silver bullet or short cut. You can’t buy mileage. You must experience longevity one week at a time in Toastmasters. Have your sights set for a year from now. Prioritize your meeting days and times. Resist boredom and “normalcy” so that you can focus on the objectives in the manual.

Like anything you want to get good at, you have to work at it every week. Let this summer be your kickoff, your summer camp, your new commitment to yourself. Prioritize your week and renew your enthusiasm for life change and Toastmasters.

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