By Tammy Kasterke, DTM
Like most of you, I’ll never forget attending my first Toastmasters meeting. I was nervous, but curious enough to step into the unknown. That first meeting I accepted a Table Topic question with a meek “okay” and clenched hands. After leaving the meeting, I knew I wanted to be in Toastmasters.
That was almost 10 years ago. My first 8 years of Toastmasters were focused at the club level, serving in several leadership roles. The only time I was stretched beyond the club was to attend officer training and a contest, if my club was being represented. I would hear “area this”, “division that”, “district this”. But truth be told, I gave little thought to the leadership hierarchy beyond the club level. Active participation at the club level was sufficient for me. It aligned well with my family, church and career commitments.
In the last 2 years, my circumstances changed, allowing me to participate outside of the club. Not as scary as my first TM meeting, but definitely still an unknown. I soon found myself serving in various ways for our district. I served as a District 25 Pathways Guide, visiting and preparing clubs for Pathways. I trained to be a Judge, judging at area and division contests. I was the District 25 TLI Chair, managing officer trainings events in 2018-2019. Today, I’m a District TLI Outreach Coordinator keeping clubs updated on their training progress.
I had this “Poof!” moment, call it a revelation, where I realized serving in the District was growing me. I hadn’t quite expected it, but District participation was
- Providing me an opportunity to lead a larger project, thus a larger team
- Building on the leadership skills I learned in the club
- Increasing my responsibilities and accountabilities
- Revealing what the District does for its members (and I must say…We have phenomenal leaders in District 25!)
- Allowing me to learn from other leaders, to observe different leadership styles
- Meeting the many wonderful Toastmasters in our District (not just my club)
The beauty of Toastmasters is… the leadership opportunities are here and ready when you are. If your current season is at the club level, that’s great… keep at it. But know, there are opportunities beyond the club that await. Step into that unknown. You too will experience the wonderful “Poof!” moment.