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Someone said “the 2nd biggest fear after death is public speaking”.  I suppose that “SOMEONE” did not visit Toastmasters club.  Having said that, my true journey in Toastmasters started in 2001 and it has been a space shuttle lift off reflecting lessons in gravitational pull since then.

My initial TM experience started with Manama Toastmasters Club,  the first club in the Arab world.  And within 6 months of joining,  I migrated to Dubai; and started exploring a club to join.  Finally, I found one, Dubai Toastmasters Club; this was the only Toastmasters club then in Dubai. This was a newly chartered club and so were the members and their experiences. I went on to attend the 2nd meeting, and dropped out the meeting after.  The reason was simple; I did not experience the level of club performance I experienced @ Manama toastmasters club.

Five years later in 2001, once again I explored Toastmasters clubs in Dubai and now there were more options.  But decided to visit Dubai Toastmasters.  I was awed by the participation and quality of the meeting, 65 members and brilliant project speeches!  The beginners of yester years had transformed into DTM, accomplished speakers and leaders whereas I had gathered moss.

Lesson #1: Others are not your benchmark, you are your benchmark for self development.   Set your bar and keep raising it.

Lesson # 2: Opportunity lost is lost TIME.  So just do it NOW.

This taught me a hard lesson  “ invest in my self development and join TM.”   Thus started my serious journey.  When the Club President invited volunteers for Deputy VP education, I grabbed the opportunity that changed my outlook and my lifestyle.

Lesson # 3: Grab every opportunity that knocks your door and is in line with your Vision.  You can always drop it if it does not fit your wardrobe but grab it and experience the change.

The Deputy VP education role play metamorphed into VP Education, President and District officer.  During my journey I made acquaintance with numerous wonderful personalities, they gave me feedback and I absorbed.

Lesson # 4: Request feedback; don’t despair from the type of feedback received, hard or soft, strip it down and extract the juice, drink and quench your thirst. Never let go of the free feedback in toastmasters.

I realized that at every step in my Toastmasters journey, my objectives evolved.  It started with being able to attempt project speeches followed by giving the better evaluations followed by conducting educational session and leading to taking up leadership roles.  And the learning continued that further evolved into meeting like minded people to attending club meetings to mentally rejuvenate?

Lesson # 5: During your journey you will change and adjust your sail to reach your objectives. Continue to evolve and adjust your sail to maximize your profits.

Toastmasters program is an audacious self development and a selfish program. But on the flip side it is also about team work because there is improvement and development only when others contribute genuine, friendly and constructive feedback.  The Toastmasters philosophy works on the premise, how best you can work as a team, how can you help others grow and make them look brilliant.  And like Zig Ziglar said “If you want to succeed in life help enough people in life to succeed “.  Because what you give away always comes back.

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