Finding Your Path with Pathways

Take the Nike approach: and “just do it.”

Are you ready for the future of Toastmasters? Have you found your first Path in Pathways? If not, why not! However, if you have already found yours, let’s make Pathways the way of the future for all Toastmasters, newbies, and oldies.

Five years ago, when I was a Pathways Ambassador for District 4, I realized getting seasoned Toastmasters on board with Pathways might be a challenge. However, after looking at the critical points and the focus of the program, I decided to take the Nike approach: and “just do it.”

As a Toastmaster who had already completed multiple DTM’s by following the Communication and Leadership requirements, I, too, was a bit hesitant. But after doing my first Path, I was hooked. And to date, I have completed two Pathways DTM’s and six Paths. I am also committed to the success of our new program and Toastmasters.

One of my primary beliefs is we must always take a step back before moving forward. And I applied that same principle to how I approached Pathways and the challenge it presented. Many years ago, World Champions speaker Lance Miller encouraged me to complete one CC – Competent Communicator and at least one AC – Advanced Communicator annually.

To this day, I still have all my old completed CC and AC manuals. Before starting a new Pathways project, I often look at the feedback received from my evaluators. It was fun to look back at those completed projects. They all took me back to a time and place. It was also quite revealing to observe my progress since I began my Toastmaster’s journey.

After reviewing the new offerings in Pathways, I immediately saw getting started was a problem for some members. Although they were computer literate, there was still a resistance to change with the changes. They were also slow to look at the wealth of resources available at the TI -Toastmasters International and Districts Websites.

Today, one of the best overviews of the program is to log in to your Toastmasters Profile, select the “Choose a Path,” and watch an introductory video available at: bit.ly/TI_PathSelection. Once you have decided on a Path, you will discover the next important step is to become familiar with Base Camp.

Having everything needed for your projects in one place, Base Camp is convenient. I no longer had to resort to my stack of old manuals to review my feedback over the years. They are now in a directory and files at my fingertips which saves lots of time and space.

Today, Pathways allows users more flexibility to view the five levels before starting the projects. Many new and long-time members have found redundancies to be a problem. Doing an icebreaker to begin each new Path is an annoyance for some members. However, being accustomed to doing a CC each new year, repeating icebreakers has not been a problem.

I just got creative. It can be fun when you reminisce about your first times. You can give speeches about your first visit to a concert, another country, your first love, or even your first day at school or college. Do you remember those first times? We all have had so many first times in our lifetime, and I believe it will take a lifetime of icebreakers to deliver them all.

The problems many have observed with the program are fixable. The number of projects repeated in a Path already completed is a significant drawback for members. But, again, my approach is – “it was what it was, it is what it is, and only when we provide our feedback will it become what it should be.” That’s why it is essential for Toastmasters who have done the traditional programs to voice their opinions.

When you do the program, you can provide helpful feedback. If every new journey begins with a single step, what gets us to our destination may change as our journey continues. Pathways is just the vehicle. But it is when we jump on board to become familiar with all the bells and whistles, we will know the type of vehicle Pathways is and what we would like it to be.

Like any new program, we expect Pathways to keep evolving. When I joined Toastmasters in the nineties, Toastmasters of the sixties, seventies, and eighties inspired me tremendously. I will never forget meeting one female member Dr. Smedley mentored when she joined the Navy at age eighteen. She spoke passionately about attending meetings on Base before the nineteen sixties when Toastmasters did not allow females to become members.

The challenges we face today are screaming for better communicators and better leaders. Are you ready to answer the call? Pathways offer many new opportunities to express our vision for a new tomorrow. The program is more balanced between the Leadership and Communication Paths. Members now have a list of projects in each Path with Core Competencies, ranging from writing a compelling blog, creating a podcast to improving your social media presence.

If you are one of those members who took a step back because of the changes from the traditional program, the time is now to step forward. With the virtual and hybrid opportunities available, now is the time to jump back into the program locally and internationally. You can attend meetings any day, any time, and in any language in any part of the world.

Now is the time for all members to start sharing one of the best-kept secrets and valued ROI – Return on Investment, with the rest of the world. Our program has successfully moved from traditional; manuals only to virtual platforms. Although it is still in its infancy, the future is bright.  The time is now to share what is perhaps the best-kept secret in the world today. It is time to start asking your friends, family, and colleagues, are you ready for the future of Toastmasters?

Author: HenryOMiller

Henry joined Toastmaster in 1997. He is presently a member of 4 Toastmasters clubs; two in Santa Cruz and two in San Jose. He is a DTM-4. Henry is an executive speech coach, humorist, and speechwriter. He is also a musician and a lyricist​ whose speechwriting approach is similar to his approach to songwriting.

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