It’s A Gift Not A Privilege

Amazing thing happened at last night’s meeting of First Oakville Toastmasters.

A Tall Tales contest night was planned but an election broke out and stole the show.

Election nights at most other organizations I’ve been a member are poorly attended and even more poorly conducted.

Not at First Oakville.

If you went down our membership roster, almost without exception, everyone who could attend the meeting (the room was packed) was there and we easily reach a quorum.

Long-time Toastmaster John Smissen chaired the election meeting and did one of the best jobs in living memory.

The elections did fill up the evening. This wasn’t the fault of the chair or the committee but can be laid at the feet of all the members who competed for positions on the 2012-2013 executive.

For example, in most clubs you have to beg to get a treasurer. Not at First Oakville where we had I think it was five people who professionally handle millions of dollars of financial transactions in their work vying for the job.

Our new executive, much like our last executive and the one before it and all the other ones, is not necessarily made up of the best qualified and most proficient Toastmasters.

No, in its collective tribal wisdom, this club tends to elect Toastmasters who the club believes will benefit most from their executive experience.

I know this for a fact. When I ran for president (the second time after having been beaten soundly by another member who clearly wanted the job more than I did that year), I wasn’t the best qualified candidate. I didn’t know the job inside out. I bet a lot of people thought I’d struggle in the position and they were right.

I did struggle. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was asked to lead people who were already leaders. I was asked to lead by consensus and not by force of personality. It was, for me. both a humbling and deeply satisfying year when I was the president of this club. I can only hope I managed to serve in the club’s best interest that year and I will be forever grateful for the experience.

So how do you get to be on the executive?

First, you attend every meeting you can possibly get to. There is no staying home. When you don’t show up, people notice. This is not a good thing.

Two, you find other ways to serve the club (We have committees!) and in doing so you show your awareness of putting the club and the members first before your own needs.

Three, you watch closely what the current executive is doing. You ask questions of your mentor and others. You get noticed in a good way.

And when it comes to election night, you talk about how honoured you would be to elected into a place of responsibility and trust. You mention that you’ll do your best and then you offer two or three points about how you’ll do the job for which you are running. You show a little humility and a lot of enthusiasm.

And, if the club has seen you at every meeting; and, if the club knows of your dedication; and, if the club thinks the opportunity will help you grow into being a better speaker, a better Toastmaster, even a better human being then; and only then, if you’re very very fortunate will you find yourself in a place of service next year.

Serving our club in the 2012-2013 season are:

Linda Rossi – President

Heather Cunningham – VP of Education

Tyler Bailey – VP of Membership

Adrian Scott – VP of Public Relations

Laura Crawford – Secretary

Timea Ivan – Treasurer

Eleanor Hayward – Sgt.-At-Arms

Congratulations to our new executive and congratulations to all who put their names forward. Your willingness to serve won’t be forgotten.

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2 responses to “It’s A Gift Not A Privilege

  1. Thank you, Peter, for summarizing what being on the executive is about. Having been on the executive myself, I know the dedication that is necessary to fulfill a role with passion. I wish the new executive this passion to lead us in another successful year. Congratulations to all who stood for nomination, and those who have been elected!

  2. Michelle Gillies

    Congratulations to everyone on the new executive! Having served on the executive I agree it is an honour and a privilege. It is also a wonderful opportunity to learn even more and to have some fun.

    Will the Tall Tales be rescheduled?