By Steven Timmons, DTM
In what is still ranked as one of the Greatest TV Cliffhangers (see #3) ever, Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise was abducted by the Borg only to be assimilated. He spoke these now famous words, “Resistance Is Futile,” as he prepared to assimilate the remainder of the Federation over to the Borg.
It seems to me that many Toastmasters feel that they are being “assimilated” by Pathways in much the same way. Well, rest assured that this is simply not true and merely a perception based on being faced with “unwanted” change. As the traditional program is set to be retired this year, you may feel even more threatened, which is understandable.
But things are only as bad as we view them. In November, I entered the hospital because of a serious infection. The doctor marked my right leg between my knee and ankle where he intended to remove my right foot and ankle. He explored an alternate course of treatment, and I walk on my right foot every day. I am fortunate because of the change in treatment since many with such an infection lose their limb or simply do not survive.
As a contrast, one of my Toastmasters buddies merely started with a blister and lost part of his leg below his knee. What struck me most as I visited him in the hospital was the amazingly cheerful attitude he had when faced with his predicament. I must admit that I am not quite so sure I could have dealt with it and displayed his positive outlook. He was truly inspiring.
During my visit, a fellow Toastmaster arrived, and we began discussing Pathways. They demonstrated a very negative attitude towards the changes that Pathways has brought and revealed they did not intend to participate in the program. Now, I am not calling them out on this because I respect them and their right to disagree. As a matter of fact, several Toastmasters have expressed similar reservations about the program.
My point is that you can take the view that Pathways has been forced upon us and feel helpless to resist. However, this is simply not the case. Toastmasters created Pathways in response to an identified need for change about eight years ago (refer to FAQ 17 here). Many of our fellow Toastmasters including several of the people that you probably know or have met helped to build and nurture the program during its development.
The program was methodically developed and phased in over the course of many years. The participants rank in the hundreds or better. Even as it was phased in District 25 participated in the next to the last kick-off across the entire world of Toastmasters. We did get a more polished product than many of the others.
The Pathways program represents a very positive advance in the educational curriculum for Toastmasters and builds upon the program that existed. While the program is not perfect (what is?), it is a product of many great minds pulling together to bring you the best method to deal with the modern communication challenges and opportunities that we all face in today’s hectic world. You have the prerogative to resist the program with its change should you choose to take it.
Still, I must ask, what have you, your fellow Toastmasters, Toastmasters that you influence, and your friends hope to gain by not participating in the benefits of Pathways?
By Steven Timmons, DTM