The one thing everyone should know about Toastmasters is not so obvious at first glance. The most important thing does not become apparent until after you have been a member for quite a while. Toastmasters is more than just about practicing leadership, speaking, and listening. Openness is what ties everything together. If you are not open to new things, then you will not get a lot out of the organization.
When I first joined Toastmasters, I thought it was all going to be about speaking. When meetings went all virtual, I thought to myself, what is the point of doing this when I cannot work on skills relating to my posture when presenting on stage? I thought about quitting the organization. I decided to go headfirst into the Pathways program and give a lot of speeches. The president of my club then put out a new rule where only one speech could be given per meeting. I was feeling the urge to quit Toastmasters again. If I could not do what I wanted to do, then why am I here? What I eventually learned is how to be open to new experiences and opportunities.
Instead of worrying about finishing the Pathways program, I took it upon myself to see what I could do beyond club meetings. I found out that I could grow my network and possibly be given the chance to teach at the Toastmasters Leadership Institute. I was also offered the position of Sergeant At Arms of my club. I took the opportunity without hesitation. I have been wanting to travel worldwide for quite some time, so I took the liberty to check out clubs in places such as Sydney Australia and Gothenburg Sweden. I saw firsthand how different countries approach leadership as well as speaking. New things came into view once I changed my perspective.
Openness is key to getting the most out of Toastmasters as well as personal growth. When you let go of how you want things to be and embrace what is, then you get more out of life. Once I let go of plowing through Pathways and giving speeches the old-fashioned way on stage, then I was able to see the true value of how the organization changed my life and how I impacted those I interacted with.