So I am a wombat

I attended a course today for work and the premise was to find out what type of leader I am and how I can work with others in my team to get the best out of each person.

AusIDentities is a one-day event where we take a version of the Myers-Briggs personality test to determine what Australian animal we are associated with.  The result was that I am a wombat.

According to the course, wombats are a great asset for any organisation.  They tend to be hard-working, dependable, loyal, thorough in their approach to tasks, and will usually want to abide by the rules or at the very least follow established procedures.  They bring stability and dependability and a keen desire to be useful, all qualities that endear them to their employers.

Typical behaviours of wombats are:

  • Standardising
  • Responsible
  • Meticulous
  • Dependable
  • Structured
  • Economical

The ideal job for a wombat is a manager or supervisor.

I am pleased to have identified as this type of leader as this reaffirms my training in Toastmasters and that I want to continue learning to lead more and more each week.

Toastmasters is a place to develop your communication skills delivering speeches but Toastmasters also claims the mantra of ‘Where leaders are made’.

I believe that this is very true.  All leaders throughout history have needed to learn the role.  They were not just magically a leader the first time they tried.  As a leader in Toastmasters, I appreciate every  day the people who have and continue to mentor me in my leadership development.

I am now pleased that I am also able to serve others and teach them to become leaders in their own right.

That is just one of the benefits of becoming a member of Toastmasters.

Taking the DNA journey

Yesterday at a Toastmasters meeting we had a video clip played.  Initially there was a speech in that slot, but as sometimes happens the person was unable to present their speech.

Our VPE decided to fill the time with a video clip that has been making the rounds on social media over the past few months.

The clip is about taking the DNA journey and how we are all related along the family tree to each other.  I enjoyed the way it was shot and the rawness and emotions of the people involved.

What started out as a filler segment in a meeting evolved into a wonderful discussion among the group.  This discussion was a highlight of the meeting.

I present the video clip below.

Work / family / Toastmasters balance

I have been accused (lovingly) of being addicted to Toastmasters. I even earned the nickname “Toastmonster”. But what happens when you do so much that it effects loved ones?

That is the issue I was starting to face as I became more and more involved in the clubs of my Area and Division. I was always going to be a member of multiple clubs, that was a given. However, I noticed that I was starting to get so busy with Toastmasters that I needed to ask myself was it fair on those around me, my clubs and myself?

Being so busy interferes with relationships and even though my partner is a Toastmaster I had noticed that she wanted to just relax and spend time together without rushing off to another meeting.

What I was also not aware of is that as I was getting busier, the quality of my role preparation and speeches dropped. I had to ask myself if quantity over quality was worth it…really?  Of course the answer had to be no.  Attending 3, 4 or 5 meetings in a week was a rush but I knew that I was not completely on game at each meeting. As I was being involved in more meetings I found myself not always getting that high I usually receive at a great meeting.  I was even feeling flat after some meetings.

What was I doing this for if I could not find the enjoyment I was once having?  I looked inward and saw that this was happening and I knew that this needed to change. 

I ended up letting one membership to a club lapse and focussed on the clubs I remained in. One club is a fortnightly club and the other is monthly. This has freed me up to focus on my role as Area Director and where I would like to head in the future.

I am still a Toastmasters tragic but I have been able to release some of that time for other projects outside of Toastmasters that I have not been able to pursue. But it also released me to focus on some other projects within Toastmasters that I just couldn’t find the time for. Projects like this blog and video tutorials that I have a calling for 

I have been able to rededicate myself and I know now that sometimes you can get so busy that you lose sight of your goals and aspirations.

I love being a Toastmaster, but I also love my family and my work and I needed to keep everything in balance.

Sometime you can’t see the forest through the trees.

What happens when it turns negative?


Yesterday I had a wonderful day at our District semi annual conference.  It was a day full of inspiring educational sessions and personal growth for me.  I had a great time networking among the fellow Toastmasters in attendance and I got a lot out of the day.

But what happens when it turns negative?

Negative may be a bit harsh, possibly anxious would be a better word.  It wasn’t much, but during the day I spoke with a few (not many) people who are well ingrained in the way that they do things and aren’t really prepared to adapt to change.

We had an excellent presentation on the new “Pathways” education program and we all did an exercise of which pathways would suit us best.  Toastmasters has spent years redeveloping the education program to bring it up to modern day standards including online learning via video tutorials and other exciting mediums.

I do understand the apprehension from the members who are happy with the way the current program operates and don’t see the relevance of the new program and what it can bring for them.  I do see the pathways being centered more around professional growth especially in the areas of career advancement.  I acknowledge that.

I guess my question is what can we do as members to help the ones who are apprehensive to give something new a go?  The pathways education program will be focusing deeply on mentoring and that may be the key.  These apprehensive members may be able to be mobilized as mentors to others who are traveling along their pathway.  It will give the sense of purpose that we all need and the acknowledgement we all seek.

International President Mike Storkey instills into all of us “Remember the member”, so I am remembering the member.  Not just those who are excited for “Pathways”, but also those who are apprehensive. Some of these members have been in Toastmasters upwards of 30 years.  Let us not ignore or forget the hard work they have done before us to be build this organisation into what it is today.

When inspiration strikes

On Wednesday evening at Toastmasters we had a speech from a member who spoke about the rule of 5.  Simply put, if something presents itself to you and you are not sure you should do it or not, give yourself 5 seconds to answer yes or no.  After 5 seconds you are pretty sure if you are going to do it or not.  If the answer is no after those 5 seconds then you are almost guaranteed to not change your mind.

I have been thinking recently on using my knowledge in most things technology to help my fellow Toastmasters more.  I was not sure what it would be.  So today when inspiration struck I questioned if this is what I should do.  After applying the rule of 5 to my thoughts I took the plunge and did my first online tutorial video for District 69.

A brief overview of dashboard and how to run reports.  Something that is easily understood by me, but I know a number of leaders who struggle to understand how to do these tasks.

So here it is.  My first tutorial for the members of District 69

The Competent Leadership manual


On Wednesday night I achieved a Competent Leadership award.  This is the fourth time I have achieved this award.  You may ask why have I done this again and again?  There are two major reasons why I keep repeating the Competent Leadership manual.

  1.  The first is that I can help my club achieve its goals on the Distinguished Club Program.  Every year Toastmasters International sets a goal for two Leadership awards per club to be achieved.  My club is able to achieve this because our members bring their manuals to each meeting and we also track our progress in easy-Speak.  Last year our club was able to achieve 5 or 6 leadership awards.  Although Toastmasters only sets 2 as a goal we all pitch in and share the roles at our club and help each member grow as leaders.  This just naturally results in leadership awards.
  2. The second and most important reason I keep repeating my Competent Leadership award is that my growth as a leader never stops.  Each time you take on a leadership role be it at District, Division, Area or Club you are always learning better ways to become a leader.  As we are all members at club level, I believe that I am always able to improve my leadership skills each and every time I do a role at the club.  Just because I have already done the Competent Leadership manual before doesn’t mean I have no where to improve or grow as a leader.

We are always growing as leaders and the Competent Leadership award gives us a chance to work on the fundamental skills as a leader.  It helps the club and it helps you.