When people hear “Toastmasters” they think about giving a toast at a wedding, or about delicious crispy breaded toasts for breakfast. For me “Toastmasters” is life changing experience.
I’ve always loved being around people, working with them and helping out. That was one of the reasons I was working in Human Resources. Once I felt I was ready I decided to start self-employment, I changed location and moved to Galway. Most times I worked online and on the phone, hardly meeting with people. I was not expecting what would come out from this.
My good friend was telling me about Toastmasters and how great the community is. She learned public speaking with them, made lots of new friends and gained self-confidence.
I really wanted to go for it just as I moved in, but self-employment was so time consuming that I wasn’t even socializing with others, just focussing on the business.
After about half a year I noticed that I didn’t feel really comfortable around people anymore. Even going to town for shopping was quite overwhelming. This was totally not like me and I wanted a solution. I decided to join some groups when I could meet people and overcome this strange feeling. I chose Toastmasters.
I noticed that every time, just when I was getting ready for the meeting, my headache began, I had doubts if I should really go or not, my mood was changing. And I ended up not going—I could not understand what was happening to me. I asked my Toastmasters mentor Catherine to meet with me, as I really needed to talk to someone. And that was my turning point—Catherine just asked me about my lifestyle, and when I told her that I spent most of my time at home working online and hardly ever meeting people, she said that we learn how to be around others and how to communicate with them, but we can unlearn these traits over time. When I got to understand this process I knew what to do—I just had to come out of that comfort zone I had built. Step by step. I’m not saying that those anxiety symptoms disappeared overnight. Oh no. It’s not so easy. But any time I doubted myself, I knew I could actually overcome those feelings. Coming out from your comfort zone is a process, but once you do it, you’re stronger and you feel that you’ve made that step forward. It is personal development, and the most amazing part of it is that now I actually coach people how to overcome any obstacles, stay positive and achieve their desired lifestyle.
Once I got my confidence back and started transforming my mindset, I went for one of my goals from the past. I earned a qualification in Fitness a good few years ago, but almost as soon as I earned it, I injured one knee really badly. I couldn’t walk for some time, not even mentioning about working in this industry. Recovery lasted for 3 years, it was traumatic for me back then. Over the years, I totally lost confidence in teaching classes, instructing and coaching. I lost belief that I’ll be able to do it ever again. And it was on one of the business courses I was doing that I was asked if I had any other passion that I could turn into business. It made me think about fitness again and I decided to give it a chance. I went back home that day and saw a job vacancy on the internet for part time Fitness Instructor. It was exactly what I needed after almost 4 years break, and I needed to actually see if I could do it. Life is amazing. I got that job and I enjoy it.
On a daily basis I am using my own life experience in my business and work. I can easily say now that Toastmasters helped me in gaining my confidence back and is now huge part of my personal development process.
It’s amazing what positive impact it has on any part of life: business and private. It comes automatically. Quite suddenly I noticed that I became more confident in front of others than I was before. Now I’m not afraid to say what I think and I make decisions much quicker on the spot.
I would recommend Toastmasters to everyone. No matter what goal you have when you join, you are actually gaining much more you can even expect.
Online Network Marketer & Fitness Instructor
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. See galway.toastmastersclubs.org for more information.