The Division F (District 20) Tall Tales contest will be held on October 4th. One thing that I wanted to do was try to create some training materials that might help the Toastmasters in our Division, many of whom didn't grow up within a culture with a tall tale tradition, write better tall tales.

To that end, I enlisted the help of some friends from DMC Toastmasters to create a video. The time we had was short, so the quality isn't what I wanted it to be and it has too much of me in it. But it's a good first effort, I think.
Special thanks goes out to my 'crew' (in no particular order): Kavita Shaw, John Vogels, Christine Coombe, Andrew Alkire, and Clayton Young. Also thanks to HCT-Dubai for the equipment and the venue.
We're getting very close to the beginning of a new Toastmasters' year. July 1st will mark the time when the old EXCOMs will hand over responsibility to the new EXCOMs. This happens at all levels and it is an exciting time. The new officers are eager to assume their duties and the old officers are eager to relax and take a break.

This time of year also marks the time when the Club, Area, and District Success Programs come to a close and the numbers are reset for the coming year. During this cycle of renewal, it is also a natural time for all Toastmasters to step back and think about renewing and resetting their goals for the coming year.

One of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is, "Begin with the end in mind". What this means is that you need to have a personal vision. A dream, a destination, a goal. You have to decide where you're going before you'll have any chance of getting there.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been trying to deliver this message to the Toastmasters in Area 66. Progressing in the Toastmasters educational programs is important for every Toastmaster. The success of a leader in Toastmasters depends on the success of individual Toastmasters. The success of the District depends on the success of its Divisions which depend on the success of their Areas which depend on the success of the Clubs. But Club success is measured by the success of its members. 

One basic assumption I make is that people join a Toastmasters Club to learn and grow. Primarily this personal development is in the areas of oral communication and leadership, and the mechanism for learning is to engage with and complete projects. Setting goals helps us measure our progress and inspires us to take short-term action in order to reap long-term rewards.

I have asked Toastmasters in Area 66 to set goals for the coming year. I urge every Toastmaster to set goals. What is your Toastmasters Dream? Write it down and tell others. You are much more likely to be successful if you do.

As I begin to visit more Toastmaster clubs, I am starting to notice distinctive Club 'personalities'. The basic meeting roles, rules, and activities are common to all clubs, but the personalities of the members, the venue, and the local traditions make each club a different experience. 
Last weekend I had a great experience visiting ICAT Toastmasters. After weeks of curiosity, I finally found out that ICAT stands for Indian Chartered Accountants Toastmasters. The meeting was very impressive. A textbook lesson in timing and role-playing. They also elected their new Executive Committee while I was there (pictured at left).

Another point that has been brought home to me is the need for constant practice to maintain public speaking skills. I've done Table Topics at three different Clubs over the last two weeks and my performance has not been as good as it should be. This is the sort of thing that Toastmasters training is so good at - highlighting weaknesses and providing opportunities to address them.
I made my first visit to Friends of Yoga Toastmasters Club last Friday. They seem like a great group of people and very dedicated to Toastmasters. They had a good meeting which culminated in the election of their Executive Committee for next year (pictured at left). I wish them all good luck in their roles and hope to be able to attend their meetings on a regular basis.

As I meet more Toastmasters and learn about the Clubs in my Area, the importance of my role becomes more apparent to me. While the duties set forth in the District Leaders Handbook seem straightforward, there are subtle elements that will take some time for me to understand. That's the thing about Leadership, I guess. If it were easy, anyone could do it. Or, perhaps more aptly put, if it were easy, more people would stand for election for the position.

So where do I start? I think it is with people. An Area Governor does not work alone. Area and Club goals are based on the accomplishment of members. What is needed from me is not so much a vision, but a belief. A belief in the values of Toastmasters International, a belief in the dedication and abilities of the Club Officers, and a belief that the Toastmasters in my Area are willing to set goals for themselves and do their best to achieve them.

When I was elected Area Governor, my first thoughts were about what I wanted to do. How much I wanted the Clubs in my Area to accomplish, and the hopes I have for the Toastmasters in my care. That lasted about half an hour.

Then I began to think about the kind of commitment that would be required from me to meet those goals. The time, the energy, the focus, and the strength. Toastmasters isn't the only commitment I have. Would I be able to juggle everything and keep my promises to myself and others?

Worse yet, I don't want to start out with grandiose plans and then abandon them as I become overwhelmed. This is no small fear - it has happened in the past. There are six Clubs in my Area. I have to believe in myself before I can convince so many others to follow where I want to lead.

And also, I know that others are watching. People who elected me, people I know and respect as Toastmasters, and people I have never met. Can I meet the expectations of others as well as myself?