This week at our Toastmasters club our theme was “Being Reflective”. As the Toastmaster for the meeting I had the privilege of leading the meeting and keeping it on track with the theme. In my preamble I talked about what “Being Reflective” meant to me. I talked about the fact that I felt being reflective meant taking the time to step back from ‘doing’ and look back at what we have ‘done’ and take some time to look at and learn from both our successes and our failures. As I prepared for the meeting and prepared for the theme it struck me that while I truly believe in the value of self reflection and the value of making time to look back, it is not something I actually do as much as I should. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day ‘doing’, and even the ‘future planning’ that it is easy to forget to stop and look back and learn from our previous experiences. My eyes were starting to open. Do I actually practice what I preach and believe in?
I went to the meeting ready to lead a great group through another stimulating meeting. Unfortunately our scheduled speaker had been in a minor car accident and wouldn’t be able to make it to the meeting. Well any of you Toastmasters out there know exactly what that means. Yes, a whole lot of Table Topics!! For those of you who are not familiar with a Toastmasters meeting Table Topics is the part of the meeting where our Topic Master comes up with questions, usually in line with the meeting theme, which they will read then choose someone in the club at random to give a mini speech on the topic for 2 minutes. It is a great way to practice thinking on your feet and once you get used to it it is actually a lot of fun.
As Toastmaster for the meeting one of my duties is to introduce the Topic Master which I did and promptly sat down feeling some relief as usually the Toastmaster is exempt from being called on to answer a Topic. This meeting was different. We had no formal speaker and our Topic Master had all the time in the world. Henry read out his topic; “When you look in the mirror what do you see?” He scans the room, makes eye contact with me, points and shouts out “Mike!”. Oh boy! He has caught me off guard. Fortunately as I stand to address the topic he remembers that he has forgotten to give the evaluator instructions on what specific attributes of the response he is looking for. This buys me a few seconds to get my thoughts together as he announces that he is looking for ‘enthusiasm’ today. Well, that certainly makes it easier! I jump up, clap my hands and shout out “Why thank you Mr. Table Topic Master. I am so glad you chose me for this very first topic! Let me tell you, when I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror I see nothing BUT a bundle of enthusiasm.” I ramble on energetically for about a minute discussing my enthusiasm and my love of Monday mornings. This sets the tone and I have everyone engaged. I pause, slow my pace and talk a little more seriously about the potential that I see in the mirror. I talk a little bit about the man that I am proud of that I see in the mirror. I talked a little bit about the man that I didn’t see. I also talk a little bit about the raw, unfinished product that is beaming with potential and discussed how exciting that is to think about how much more in life I have to give. I summed up my mini speech by recapping what I saw and turned control back to our Toastmaster. What a fabulous excercise!! I had no time to think or prepare but rather answered from the heart. This meeting made an impact on me.
This week I have really tried to take the time and look back and reflect on all that I am, all that I have, and all that I can be grateful for as well as all that I can be. I took some time to reflect on those around me and how they carry themselves in good times and in bad. I looked for things to be grateful for and things that I can be proud of. Things that make me happy and things that make those around me happy.
My sister posted something on Facebook that really touched me as well. It really made me stop and think “Who the heck are you to be unhappy with anything in your life?”. After all, I can walk, I can talk, I have some great friends, a job I love that makes a difference, two beautiful children…. Who the heck am I to EVER complain about my life? The image to the right is what she posted. You see Judi is a physiotherapist who works with disabled children. When I asked her about the girl she responded with
She was a 14 year old girl who I worked with at different times. She had a very rare central nervous system disability which left her developmentally delayed in all areas (unable to walk/talk). I think what I remember most about her is her beautiful smile and that she rarely complained about anything despite her disability (yes she could let you know when she was happy or upset). She recently recovered from back surgery and so it was quite a shock when she passed last week. She also had the most amazing family. Her mom spent the last 14 years caring for her and was such a great advocate for her. She feels completely lost now. It was also touching to see all the kids from her elementary school (she went to catholic school til this year) attend the funeral, many of whom wore pink cause it was her favorite colour. Very cool to see the community come around her family too.l”.
“You seem happy Mike””