Tips to Complete Your Path
In September 2018, I became the first Toastmaster in District 47 to complete a path in Pathways. The journey was gratifying and rewarding, and I want to encourage you with five tips I learned along the way.
Begin with the End in Mind
Everyone knows Pathways is highly customizable. Members can choose from 10 different paths, and each path offers electives to choose from. But consider an even more powerful way to customize your path’s journey: set a vision for yourself. Toastmasters is a self-directed program—you get out of it what you put into it—, and that hasn’t changed with Pathways. For me, my vision was specific: to be comfortable and confident in my newfound positions of leadership as the president of my club and as a lead consultant at work. With every Pathways project, I strived not only to meet the project’s objective but also to work towards being that dynamic leader I pictured in my mind’s eye. Sometimes, that meant delivering speeches in the assertive and persuasive style I needed to learn for work. Other times, it meant embodying the qualities of that leader, like bold risk-taking (choosing ambitious electives) and a strong sense of servitude (with informative speeches that primarily benefited my audience). This strategy of beginning with the end in mind also kept me motivated to advance. Where do you want to be? Let your path take you there.
Power through Level 1
I know. I know. There are plenty of complaints about Pathways (some valid, others not so much). What’s hindering you from starting in earnest? Is it the fact that it’s online? Or that there are no book manuals? Can’t navigate Base Camp? Too different from what you were used to? I get it. I’ve been where you are. But I want you to know that it gets better. If you power through it, Pathways will get easier: you’ll either figure out the problems you’re having or you’ll get used to the way things are. When does that happen? For me (and for many others), it was after completing Level 1. That’s 4 speeches and 1 role, a manageable and worthy undertaking. If you can complete Level 1, you’ll notice the fears and trepidations melt away, and you can focus more on the projects and less on the format. Make a commitment today to complete Level 1 and kick-start your path.
This isn’t for everyone. Some people are very carefree and spontaneous while others are meticulous planners. I’m the latter. In Pathways, you can’t see the contents of every project ahead of time; you have to complete a level to unlock the next. But that doesn’t mean you can’t plan—there is a panoply of tools available to let you understand every single project’s purpose, objectives, evaluation resources, available electives, speech and role requirements, etc. If you haven’t yet, read our Pathways page on the district website: it’s rife with resources like the Pathways Catalog and Journey to DTM. If you’re inclined to map out your progress, use these tools to plan ahead.
Engage with Other Clubs
If you haven’t visited a club other than your own, you’re missing out. Being a guest at other clubs can be a wonderful chance to observe new cultures and slightly different ways folks conduct their Toastmasters meetings. I had so much fun when I visited a second club, I decided to join! And then I joined a third one! To be successful in Pathways, you don’t need to join every club you see like I did. But it does help to speak at other clubs, and here’s why. You get new perspectives from folks who don’t know you that well. You get to test out your style with a different audience. You have an extra speaking opportunity in addition to your regular club meetings—and this is especially helpful if your club is getting a little tired of hearing several Pathways speeches with very similar topics. You don’t even have to be a member at the new club; just talk to their VPE and see if they can work you into an upcoming meeting. Engaging with other clubs will turbocharge your progress on your path and give you new perspectives.
Do It with Gratitude
Trust me, you can’t do it alone. You’re embarking on a journey of self-development, and that takes willing participation from those around you. I couldn’t have done without the crucial help of guides and ambassadors at the beginning, the many insightful assessments from speech evaluators, the encouragement from fellow club members after each completed project, the time and patience from other clubs, the zeal of my trusted mentors… I could go on forever. When struggling, lean on the Toastmasters around you who are ready to support you. When thriving, invite them to celebrate with you. When you unlock new heights of excellence, don’t forget you earned it together, not alone. The spirit of gratitude reminds us we’re on a journey worth taking.
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