Yesterday, I was installed as the president of my toastmasters club. As I stood there, on the dias- I looked at the members of the committee and the club. I saw the twinkling eyes of those who never gave up on me and brought me to this place.
It was a surreal moment for me – standing there giving my acceptance speech, as it was something I had never forseen for myself.
It shows the kind of journey that I have had in Toastmasters, and how a set of people have changed my life.
Going back in time – My transformation started with the concept of freedom.
Freedom: The power or right to act, speak, think or do as one wants. I am a true believer of complete and absolute freedom, and come on, who isn’t? Who doesn’t want the world to be at their feet and every goal, dream and ambition to be just a choice away?
My whole life – every choice I would make would be centered on “What do I want?” And I got away with it just fine. Every choice was made at the drop of a hat, last minute frenzies being my best friends.
Well, luckily for me – Toastmasters was about to change that.
5 years ago, when I first joined Toastmasters, I was thrown out of my comfort zone. If you wanted to give speeches, you had to inform your Vice President of Education [VP-E] IN ADVANCE. If you wanted to take up a role – you had to plan it – IN ADVANCE. Commitments here, commitments there, commitments everywhere.
Commitment. It was clipping my wings, grounding my beloved freedom, hanging over my head like a sword.
Then, one day, it blew up in my face. My phone was ringing, and Priyadarshi [the past president, my inspiration, motivation and mentor] was on the other line. He wanted my commitment to be VP-E when he was president.
6 months of rolling out the agenda – week after week, coordinating things, PLANNING IN ADVANCE – not just for me, but for the whole club?!
My logical mind put its foot down and said no way – but reason and logic are friends of many others too. I looked to my sunshine family for a way out – for someone to agree with the critic in my head. As I made call after call, not a single person sided with my ciritc.
I was in awe. Here were people, who saw potential in me – beyond what I saw in myself. Here were people that had a 100% faith that I was capable of doing things I never thought I could. These were people who believed in me – even when I didn’t believe in myself.
Filled with self doubt, but trusting my Sunshine family – I managed to give my shaky word.
Now, stepping into the shoes of the president – I look back at the past 6 months, having played my part as VP-E and I realize, it was the best time of my life.
I did so much more in the last 6 months than I had in years put together. I felt freer, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, like I could do whatever I really wanted.
It is now that I realize for the first time – the connection between freedom and commitment.
Freedom: The power to act, think or do as one wants.
The connection between freedom and commitment lies in asking the right question about what you want.
“What do I want right now?” and “What do I really want?”
What we all want in this journey to Improve our communication skills, leadership skills, make new friends, add value to the lives of others and maybe even to help the less fortunate.
Sometimes, what you want right now and what you really want are not the same thing. It took me 5 long years in toastmasters to learn that:
The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating. In work, in play, in love, and in life. The act of making a commitment frees you from the tryanny of your internal ciritc. It frees you from the fear that parades around like rational hesitation.
To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life, because once you have decided something – nothing and no one can get in your way.
To make the most of 2014, I suggest that you to commit to what you really really want.
Forget about the who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s and how’s – the universe will rearrange itself to help you get what you want.
And it all starts with a simple commitment. Nothing is out of our reach. Weight loss, making friends you never imagined you would have, career goals, writing that book, adventures that will turn into stories- all lay ahead of us.
We have the freedom to achieve our goals – no matter how big or small they are. We have the freedom to ask for help when we need it. We have the freedom to scale to greater heights. We have the freedom to move ahead in our journeys – together.
This year, commit to setting yourself free.