The tallest oak tree in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured. – “OUTLIERS the Story of Success” By Malcolm Gladwell.
However “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell is not about trees and forest; it is about opportunities and exercising those opportunities. And what Malcolm Gladwell shares is no rocket science to reflect why Toastmasters progress in life by leaps and bounds; they progress because the platform provides opportunities to become a better communicator, a better leader and a better person in life. The platform also provides the process and the motivation to lead and communicate with your audience and bring changes in your life and others.
Now my questions to you is, do you see those opportunities and exercise them? I recall relocating from Bahrain to Dubai in 1996. And being three months infant in Bahrain Toastmasters club, I joined then newly formed Dubai Toastmasters club. To show my commitment I paid-up my quarterly dues in the first meeting. However during the second meeting I started visualizing and comparing former with the current Toastmasters club meeting. And promptly rationalized that my new club will not benefit me and crafted an excuse to quit Dubai Toastmasters club.
Many years later in 2001 when I went back to Dubai Toastmasters club. The meeting was house-full, replete with energy and powerful speakers. My fellow Toastmasters of 1996 batch had progressed to CTM; ATM and accomplished leaders.
What happened ? Where did my visualization go wrong? Analyzing closely it dawned that my visualization cost me the opportunity time of five years because I looked outside to make a life changing decision. I set others as my benchmark, I rationalized my decision on performance of others whereas my decision should have been based on my needs and hence set my benchmark. I missed the opportunity.
Malcolm Gladwell in “OUTLIERS – The story of success” also shares another rule, to achieve the level of mastery associated with an expert in anything, a 10,000 hours of practice is required. So it is not only about opportunities, its also about putting in long hours into the process and the two steps are equally important in your life. My learning in Toastmasters started in March 2001 when I committed to take up the role play of assistant VP Education and then progressed to VP Education; Club President; Area Governor and Division Governor. During my journey in toastmasters many Toastmasters have crossed my path and every one of them has been a teacher in one way or the other. My challenge has been to identify learning from each one of them and exercise them and grow into the tallest OAK TREE.