A race or a team?

April 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment


Here’s a letter I had forgotten about, one I wrote  in late 2009 when I was President of our Toastmasters club, the Energetics. I just unearthed the letter today and thought it was worth sharing.

Most organizations, I think, go through times of losing members and losing momentum. I’m happy to report that by the end of that year, we had gained momentum again and grown our club considerably. Here, for others who may be feeling discouraged by low enrollment or participation, is that letter.


Dear fellow Toastmasters

Two meetings ago, our theme was “Slow and steady wins the race,” a lesson we get from Aesop, a 6th Century B.C. Greek writer, who wrote The Hare and the Tortoise. He wrote entertaining short stories and fables that were meant to teach a lesson.

The tortoise, a rather slow moving creature, challenges the hare [rabbit] to a race. The hare sneers at the tortoise for his crooked legs and slow movements, and he brags that he can win the race easily. He accepts the challenge, assured that he can win. He leaps on ahead, while the owl, who is judge, and all the forest animals eagerly watch the race.

Hare had used so much energy bounding ahead that he decided to eat some carrots alongside the path, and then, since tortoise is still so far away, to take a nap beside the path as well. All this time, the tortoise plodded along steadily. Hare woke from his nap just as tortoise approached the finish line, and for all the hare’s hurry, owl declared the tortoise the winner of the race.

I thought how much that lesson compares with our Toastmasters journey—the slow and steady part. It might take awhile to get that Competent Communicator designation, but week after week and month after month of practice moves a member further along.

We are not to compare ourselves with others but to progress along our own course with the help and encouragement of the others. We learn from the others and not in isolation. The race analogy fails here. We are more like team members who work together to achieve something we cannot do alone. We are in a course alongside others who are also learning and growing.

If we continue along steadily, week after week and month after month, we will surely reach our goals. We will become better communicators and leaders. We are not in a competitive race to reach our goal, as the Hare believes. If one person takes two years and another member takes one to achieve the CC or ACB or whatever designation one chooses, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we join in and learn.

There has to be action and learning and cooperation among members. When only a few carry the load, they get tired and discouraged. When they get discouraged or drained from doing too much, the whole club suffers. Our club needs all of its members. And yes, I know, we have a life beyond Toastmasters.

Let’s renew our energy, beginning this new month of December, and continue on through the rest of our Toastmasters year, to reach those personal goals, and at the same time support others who are working toward theirs.

Sign on to the club website and put yourself in roles as often as you can. Work toward those goals you’ve set for yourself or challenge yourself to a new one for 2010. Let’s make the rest of the year a team effort where everyone wins. Game’s on!


Your President












At Open Doors Waterloo, a Toastmasters initiative








At Huron Natural Park, photo by James Woo, Clickr Photography


Entry filed under: arts, business, community, education, leadership, lifestyle, photography, public speaking, relationships, talent, writing. Tags: , , , , .

Who is God? Nature and Characteristics Book Signing this Saturday, May 4th for Once Upon a Sandbox

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