As I went for a walk yesterday my eyes took notice of a simple block of wood lying among some weeds. Memories raced through my head of a piece of wood similar in size, 7″x4″x3″, that was placed beneath my feet in my 5th grade classroom. My teacher, Mrs. Underhill, had noticed my feet dangling about 3″ above the floor each day as I sat in class. Not just any teacher would have sought a solution for a problem that could have easily been overlooked. She was not that kind of teacher.
I’ll never forget her act of kindness and devotion. It sent several messages to me as a ten-year old. I was important and I mattered to her. She noticed my need to be comfortable and to have correct posture while reading and writing. Mrs. Underhill wanted to do her best to help me be successful in the school. She taught more than reading, writing, math, and English. Her example taught me that a simple act of kindness can make a difference over a lifetime.
Being intentional in noticing the needs of others takes the focus off of self and demonstrates kindness and respect for individual differences. I want to be the kind of leader that is attentive to the needs of those around me; be that block of wood under someone else’s feet.
Being a member of a Toastmasters Club provides me with opportunities to help others maximize their potential in life and pay forward this lesson on serving and observing the needs of others.
In Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, the author says, “Humans, by their nature, seek purpose-a cause greater and more enduring than themselves.” Toastmaster clubs offer opportunities for members to learn skills that enable them to become a better leader and communicator in their workplace and community.
The Toastmasters International Competent Leadership manual states that “Every organization needs leaders who can influence others to achieve goals, who can rise to the challenge, bring us together and take us into the future with purpose and confidence.”
Look around you and find ways that you can motivate, mentor, and build your club, business or organization. Be that block of wood for a fellow friend, co-worker, neighbor, or club member. Inspire confidence and offer support. Offer a word of encouragement, mentor a new employee, member, or friend. Provide honest and helpful feedback. An evaluator in Toastmasters makes a note of a member’s speaking or leadership skills; accentuating the positives. Actively participating in group activities helps you practice your communication skills and being a confident, purposeful and servant leader. Inspiring and enabling others to maximize their potential will not only bless someone else, but you as well. As for me, I want to be a chip off the old block and support my club, family, church and those within my sphere of influence. I challenge you to do the same. Pay it forward.