By Chris Raneri, DTM, PDD

My family has a Thanksgiving tradition of telling each other what they are thankful for. The usual suspects come to mind – family, friends, health, and wealth. While all of those are true for me, there was one additional thing that came to my mind: the gift Toastmasters has given me.

Toastmasters has afforded me the opportunity to grow as a leader just by saying Yes. That one simple word has changed my outlook on how to be a servant leader, how to be a better communicator, and how to effectively team with my peers at work.

Is the reward worth the risk of saying Yes? Without a doubt in my mind, without hesitation, and without bribes – YES! I agree that saying Yes does impact your life in more than one way. It does take time away from other parts of your life, both family and friends. I even joke that I had to say No to other things I wanted to do because I said Yes.

If I must give something up, why is it worth the risk? I’ll admit I didn’t always see leadership as a gift. It felt more like a burden or just a task I HAD to do. It was my sacrifice to complete my education track. However, it took only a couple months as an Area Director to realize the positive impact I could have on others by becoming a better leader. I also realized what a positive impact it had on me and how satisfied I felt watching others achieve success. I believe I would not have realized that without the opportunities Toastmasters has afforded me.

The more I get involved, the more I want to be involved, and the more Yes is my path to success versus just a task. Saying No to other things isn’t taking me away from family and friends. It is actually helping me become a stronger, better version of myself. These skills helped me become a better spouse, friend, and co-worker.

I am thankful for taking the opportunity to say Yes to becoming a leader. It has enriched my life in more ways than I can express. It is your turn to say Yes now!

The District has many leadership opportunities available for the upcoming Toastmaster year. Elected district leadership — Trio and Division Directors — nominations need to be submitted by January 15, 2022, to nominations@d25toastmasters.org. Go to d25toastmasters.org to express interest in being a part of a committee, district staff, or even an Area Director. Still having trouble deciding? Please attend the leadership open house on January 8, 2022. See details here: https://www.d25toastmasters.org/district-leadership/district-leadership-open-house/

Your gift of becoming a leader awaits you! All you need to do is say one simple word. Yes!

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