Twenty years ago this week, November 14, 1991, I joined Toastmasters. I had attended my first meeting only the week before.
I don't often discuss TM here on this blog. I think it is because, in the early years, I over sold it to anyone who would listen, like I was selling Amway or something. I am confident, confident in the way I am sanguine that my fly is up when I leave the men's room, that I alienated and pissed off more people by going on and on about TM than I would have had I remained nearly silent about it.
Instead, people just get the sense that I am in Toastmasters. I mention it in passing at work from time to time, and word gets around. I recently brought in about a dozen copies of the official Toastmasters magazine to my work, leaving them in the kitchen for folks to read. Most of them had my mailing address and name on them. They have disappeared from the kitchen, so the word is getting around.
Please put them back in the kitchen, by the way, if you don't mind. I want everyone to be able to read these magazines, not just you. Thank you.
I joined TM, 20 years ago, because of my extreme shyness. It was a challenge for me to speak up at any time about anything. An alpha male, I was not.
A woman at my work was already a member. She sent out an email to the branch about the club and invited anyone who wanted to go, to come as a guest. I took her up on the offer. That was November 7, 1991. I was so taken by the meeting, so captivated by the content, so wrapped up in what I heard and saw, that I decided to join after that first meeting.
I have had my ups and down with TM over the years. There have been a few people who tried my nerves and tested my resolve and stretched my patience in ways that I cannot politely explain. A couple of times I came extremely close to quitting. But, I'm still there.
More than once, I have wondered why I have spent so many years in this organization. I have done nearly everything in it that a person can do, unless I turned around and did them all again, which lots of people do. Most people last perhaps a couple of years in Toastmasters before the pressures of a burgeoning family, or work, or some combination of the things I just listed, conspire to force a person to quit. I don't have children, and my work doesn't care what I do at night, so I can spend the time every Wednesday night going to my meeting.
People have asked me why I have been a member of TM for so long. I tell them that, almost without exception, I feel better after a meeting, even a long and grueling one, than I went going in. I can't tell you the number of times I have had a crappy day at work, or I am feeling poorly, or my lethargy and inertia gang up on me and try to entice me not to attend. As best as I can, I ignore these entreaties; and nearly every time, after a meeting is over, I feel better, sometimes remarkably better. TM is a very cheap drug. It's good for you. And I don't tell it I love it, nearly often enough.
We meet every Wednesday night at 5:45 at the World Trade and Convention Centre in downtown Halifax. If you are interested in more information, feel free to ask me about it, and I will tell you all about it.
It has the Bevboy Seal of Approval.
See you tomorrow.