by Steven Timmons, DTM
Do you know everything there is to know about Pathways? Probably not. Over time I have heard a great deal of speculation about Pathways, much of which is not supported by facts.
Here are five interesting facts that may help correct misconceptions about Pathways.
- Pathways was NOT developed by Toastmasters International without hearing the voice of its members. Toastmasters created Pathways to respond to a recognized need for a revitalized modern education program. In the beginning, many members from districts around the world responded to the call for volunteers to serve on the development team. This included members from our own District 25. Members who served on the team could not be overly committed to other jobs (e.g., a district officer) to participate. Many of those people that helped create Pathways are still active members today.
- A Distinguished Toastmasters Award, DTM, in the traditional program had a common set of objectives that had to be completed, with little room for flexibility. Members earn a DTM in Pathways by completing any 2 of the 11 paths of their own choosing and completing leadership activities outside the club. Your Pathways DTM is truly your DTM.
- Prior to COVID, members attended meetings physically and most remained invested in the traditional, manual‑based program. They carried their manuals and had them completed and signed during the meeting. When Toastmasters International allowed clubs to meet virtually to allow their programs to continue – I was surprised. The on‑line Pathways program facilitated a transition to a more digital form of communication and turned out to be extremely timely. We do not credit Pathways with this fact, but it very likely allowed many members to remain in Toastmasters.
- Toastmasters International conducted an extensive, involved process to transition to Pathways. In addition to the members who helped design Pathways, Toastmasters created and requested volunteers to fulfill roles as Pathways Guides and Pathways Ambassadors. Pathways Ambassadors led the transition in each District by creating excitement about the transition to Pathways. During a short period before and after the rollout in a District, Pathways Guides informed club members about the details of the Pathways program. Toastmasters International allowed both the Ambassadors and Guides to earn a year of District Service credit for their role in the rollout. It was a true win-win for everyone involved, especially the clubs.
- Pathways presents a unique experience for every member involved. Completing one Pathways Path gives the recipient a proud achievement that they can place on their resume and employers can appreciate without the cryptic confusion that the old program could represent. Don’t get me wrong, I loved both programs but putting John Smith ACS, ALS often lead to an uncomfortable requirement for an explanation, or it was simply dismissed as irrelevant. A proficiency in Visionary Leadership will actually mean something to non-Toastmasters and can make the difference between getting hired and not getting the job you want.
Depending on when you became involved in Toastmasters, you may not have known that districts invested this amount of effort to create and deliver Pathways. Toastmasters did not create the program in a back office and hand it to members. Numerous Toastmasters developed and designed the program and remain members who still serve us today.
As we earn our Pathways achievements, remember how Toastmasters International responded to a challenge related to becoming more flexible and relevant to the needs of the corporate world. Pathways will serve many others for years to come until, sometime in the future, another revamp is needed to remain relevant in our constantly evolving world. Enjoy!