This article is part of the “Quarantine Diaries and beyond” eBook. Will be here available for some time till it goes into the book. Hope you will enjoy it.
Strange things happen sometimes, if not all times, at Toastmasters meetings!
We go there from different perspectives, life experiences, ambitions, thoughts, fears, and joys…
And we “SEE SOMETHING” there! In others, but most importantly in ourselves!
So what is the Toastmasters?
“Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., the organization’s membership exceeds 364,000 in more than 16,200 clubs in 145 countries.”
Quote from the web page of Toastmasters International https://www.toastmasters.org/about/all-about-toastmasters
At each meeting, there are roles assigned to the members. I will not go into detail but will reveal the atmosphere of the meeting occurred yesterday, worthy of becoming a part of my eBook “Quarantine Diaries and Beyond”-To conform or to confront-
Namely, I was assigned to be Grammarian. What is Grammarian?
Grammarian duty, as per Toastmasters international, is among other tasks to:
-Introduce new words to meeting participants and monitor language and grammar usage
-Write down the language and grammar usage of all speakers, noting incomplete sentences, mispronunciations, grammatical mistakes, non-sequiturs, malapropisms, etc.
-At the end of the meeting, give your complete report when called on.
-Optional: Introduce and display “Word of the Week“ that helps meeting participants increase their vocabulary…
I will concentrate on the “optional,” as we made optional a tradition!
I came some half an hour earlier to the cozy place called “Coaching Hub,” where our meetings are held. As next door is a famous “Leonidas” Chocolate shop, I came to an idea to buy some chocolates to boost the meeting’s sweetness.
Inspiration for that, truly subconsciously, arrived from a couple of visits of our fellow toastmasters from Switzerland who presented us with the gift of their also famous Swiss chocolates!
It looks like that this is how the door is open for the visit of magic!
Chocolates were bought and brought to the Coaching hub, where two dear ladies already arrived to organize the meeting.
Yet, I did not think which word to introduce as “Word of the meeting” or ” Word of Two Weeks.” Two weeks, because we have meetings every 15 days. I wanted inspiration from the venue place to introduce the word!
I wanted to “SEE SOMETHING” before introducing the word.
After talking about everyday things and the world’s general situation accompanied by tasty mint tea, Leonida chocolates, and yummy biscuits, the word came by itself! But as a rule says, the Word stays secret till Grammarian stands up and explains the role. Then the Word is revealed and presented to the meeting participants.
Before me, as Grammarian, our club President and Toastmaster of the meeting introduced guests, saying a few warm and genuine words about the idea of Toastmasters.
Next came always authentic, life experience presented by “Thought of the Day.”
It was amazing! It was huge! Feelings came out of hiding to enlighten us, inspire us, and make us to feel like we knew it already! That is called INITIATION!
I got initiated! I noticed, examining myself and all the participants further, that we all have been initiated by life itself! I saw the opportunity to structure the initiation and share some thoughts later.
And the word of the day, still secret, reflected the beginning of the meeting very much!
By going towards the stage to explain the Grammarian’s role and following the thought that “not only reason but the healthy feeling” can be the judge of truth, one idea crossed my mind, and I said that I will announce it without further thinking!
I shared the same warm, genuine, wholehearted feelings with my fellow Toastmasters and guests, saying that, as Grammarian, I will also count EMOTIONS!
Somehow, at least it looked to me, we crossed the point from the physical world approaching the soul’s continuous movement. Some of us could find out what we are doing here and feel that we are human first and foremost.
The cover went down, “Word of the Meeting” got revealed!
AFFECTION- Emotional realm of love-
Presented as per the photo accompanying this writing.
The reception of the word was that of excitement and satisfaction.
We all need affection! To give and receive!
That is what you will find at Toastmasters. They, us, will “SEE SOMETHING IN YOU,” whatever that is! Will present it with affection, and after it is up to you to develop what you have hidden inside! And that is tremendous!
What I noticed examining myself and all the participants is that we all have been initiated by life itself.
What we need are some words to free the emotion coming from the soul.
“Praise in Public, Criticize in Private?”
That was the question for all of us to give our opinion as we have changed the format of the meeting and expanded “Table Topics,” inviting all to take part! No winner! Only Winners! All the participants!
That is called TOGETHERNESS out of INDIVIDUALITY!
So, dear readers, what would be your thoughts about the above question?
I leave you to reflect and answer by yourself.
As a writer of these words, I can do is to share what my answer was.
But before that, I would like to share with you a short story from another fellow toastmaster who reminded me about a passage from the book of Sergey Kara-Murza,” Manipulation of Consciousness.” Namely, our fellow Toastmaster let us know about his first meeting with people from another country in his then-new job.
He got unbalanced with the harsh words used by his new colleagues till he realized that this is how their mentality is and that it is normal behavior between them.
In his book Manipulation of Consciousness, Kara-Murza gave us an example of one explorer going alone in the Amazon jungle and meeting the natives there. The explorer went slowly inside the settlement, and in the center, he opened his sleeping bag, took off his shoes, covered himself, and slept!
Risky? Yes. But what explorer showed? That he came in peace and that he gave his trust to the natives! He trusted them with his life. So natives appreciated it and the next day they became familiar and very friendly with him.
Give trust to receive trust!
This is what our fellow Toastmaster did! He did not react! He “went to sleep,” giving trust to his new colleagues, and he advanced his carrier and work as he got back the respect and trust.
We all have some size of a devil inside of us. That thing is making many issues in our life. Makes us doubt and causes us to do things we regret after.
It is not about praising and criticizing—neither about public nor private.
It is about self.
I mention a quote from a man who was the best man at my Great Grand Father’s wedding and a hero Marko Miljanov:
“Bravery is to protect yourself from others while Humanity is to protect others from yourself!”
And all these words will have its worth confirmed as long as
you “Practice yourself what you preach!”
Or in Latin original by Plautus from his famous “Asinaria” work
“Facias ipse quod faciamus nobis suades”
The above is just a small part of initiations, and creativity happening at Toastmasters meetings! And the “result” of counting the emotions is just interminable!
Connect and Respect
Darko Richard Lancelot