Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
by Camille Gibney
I first joined Toastmasters in May 2007 for (what I’ve come to understand is) a common reason. I wanted to become more comfortable speaking in public. I’ve always been a shy and quiet person. I’ve always been the person more content to sit and listen than to be the centre of attention (or even the person talking) even with people I’m close to. I’m totally ok not having input (unless I have something to say – than hear me out!).
In the Fall of 2008, I decided to compete in the Humorous Speech Contest and I ended up coming in 2nd in our Division (haven’t made it past Area since). I also earned my Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Leader Bronze relatively quickly. Then I came across the Advanced Communicator Silver (just a speech I wasn’t sure how to do) and the Advanced Leader Silver. The Advanced Leader Silver required me to be a leader and I’m not a leader! I had no interest in being a leader especially to do what was required for the Advanced Leader Silver. I thought – what do I have to offer? I don’t have experience to work with clubs.
Around 2016 I started to hear whispers about this new program that was coming out and that you needed to complete your Distinguished Toastmasters designation by then. I realized how close I was to getting it and I started to wonder if maybe I should try. How hard could it be?
I knew that in order to earn it, I would need to be a leader but I was willing to go out of my comfort zone to do that. I knew Toastmasters was a great way to learn (and make mistakes) in a safe environment. I still felt that I didn’t have too much to offer other clubs but I soon learned I was wrong! The more I started to work with other clubs, the more I realized that my home club (Speaker’s Corner) was a strong club (since 2004 we have not been below 20 members and there’s only been two years we were not distinguished). I started to realize that maybe I had something to offer other clubs. Maybe by being a member of a strong club, I could give other clubs feedback and suggestions.
This Fall I started my journey as an Area Director. When I took over the role, my Area consisted of one club that was suspended, one club that was folding, two clubs that were in need of Club Coaches, and my club. That left me with three clubs. I started to realize that maybe this wouldn’t be an easy job. I might have to step up and be a leader! I started by asking for their Club’s Success Plan and then I attended each club and completed my Area Director report. After that I had an idea of their challenges and how I could potentially support them.
Knowing that I have clubs that need support, I have tried to find as much material as I can about supporting clubs. I’ve attended Club Coach webinars and am now attending a session on Leadership Development. I am trying to be there as a support to my Club Coaches as well as the Presidents and members of the executive so that together we can grow these clubs.
Being an Area Director is not necessarily an easy job and it can be time consuming but I also feel I have learned so much. When I think back to the person I was when I joined eleven years ago, I know that I am a completely different person. I am definitely more confident speaking in public and I am willing to step out of my comfort zone to take on roles I may not normally have done.
I can’t wait to see where this year takes me!
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development, with over 352,000 members in 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. The world needs leaders. Leaders head families, coach teams, run businesses and mentor others. These leaders must not only accomplish, they must communicate. By regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere, leaders emerge from the Toastmasters program