Posted May 13, 2024
Leadership Matters

By Rose Williams, DTM, PDD | May 2024

On December 3, 1990, the head coach at Colorado, Bill McCartney, founded an organization known as Promise Keepers. This was and is a Christian non-profit organization for men. Basically, men committed to practice spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity. This is a concept that women and young girls are familiar with but for men, it was new. At it’s first official conference, there were 4,200 men in attendance. In 1993, there were 50,000 men in attendance. These men made a commitment to God based upon a seven-fold promise. They are 1) values/beliefs; 2) building relationships with like-minded men; 3) behavior/character; 4) family commitments; 5) purpose; 6) inclusion and unity; and 7) influencing others. This faith-based organization has a mission to inspire men to live with integrity and to be changemakers.

A promise can give hope. It is a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified. Making a promise is serious, and breaking a promise can be detrimental. In short, promises should not be taken slightly or made hastily. You may have heard the phrase “your word is your bond,” which I interpret to mean you will always keep your promise.

By now you are most likely wondering what this has to do with Toastmasters, and my response is EVERYTHING.

When we were first introduced to Toastmasters and made the decision to become a member, we completed the application, signed it, and paid the required dues. Upon signing that document, we made a promise: a promise to Show Up, Speak Up and Step Up. Along with that promise, we committed to abide by the core values of our organization (Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence). We agreed to be change makers in our lives and the lives of others.

As a member of Toastmaster International and my Club, I promise. . .

  1. To attend Club meetings regularly
  2. To prepare all of my speeches to the best of my ability, basing them on projects in the Communications and Leadership Program manual or the Advanced Communication and Leadership Program manuals
  3. To willingly prepare for and fulfill meeting assignments
  4. To provide fellow members with helpful, constructive evaluations
  5. To help the Club maintain the positive, friendly environment necessary for all members to learn and grow
  6. To willingly serve my Club as an officer when called upon to do so
  7. To treat my fellow Club members and our guests with respect and courtesy
  8. To bring guests to Club meetings so they can see the benefits Toastmaster’s membership offers
  9. To adhere to the guidelines and rules for all Toastmasters educational and recognition programs
  10. To maintain honest and highly ethical standards during the conduct of all Toastmasters activities

Fellow Toastmasters, we are continually challenged to keep our promises by:
Showing up – regularly attend club meetings (1) and bring someone with you (8);
Speaking up – being prepared to lead meetings, make presentations, provide feedback and perform functionary roles (2,3, 4, and 7);
Stepping up – to fill vacant roles and serve as an officer when asked, and to always help make meetings a safe place to grow. (5,6, 9 and 10).

Making sure that you keep your promises and commitments at an organization is super important. When you say you’ll do something, it helps build trust among members. It could be as simple as attending meetings regularly or actively participating when you’re asked to. If someone asks you to take the lead on a project, it shows that they trust your skills and value your contribution. Likewise, being reliable and dependable at work or in a group is a great way to show that you are a team player. When you attend meetings consistently, you’re showing that you care about accomplishing personal and team goals. As you actively participate by sharing your time and ideas, you morph into a more confident version of yourself, and when a project or opportunity comes along, you’re more confident to step up and show your leadership skills.

Toastmasters is where leaders are made, friendships are born, and you are never on your own. At its core, we foster a climate of integrity and respect for one another with a heart to serve with excellence to ensure each member becomes a better version of themselves. Promises are generic and inclusive of Toastmasters. When you fulfill your commitments, you’re not only showing that you can be trusted, but you’re also building a positive reputation within the organization that transfers into real life and work environments. Leaving a legacy of being someone who is dependable and accountable, a person of integrity who is respectful and serves to the best of their ability is something that will be remembered for at least 100 years.

Promise Keepers is still an active organization today but not with the same zeal and gusto it once had. Times change, things change, people change but their values and mission remain. Toastmasters has changed over the past 100 years and rightfully so because times change, things change, and people change, but our core values remain the same. Most people don’t like change even when it’s for the better. As we embrace the challenges of keeping our promises and adapting to changes, let’s also remember to establish priorities and maintain life balance.

Establishing priorities helps us focus on what’s truly important (health, family, faith, career, and community) and make plans to accomplish goals we’ve set. When traveling by plane a reminder is always given to practice self-care (put oxygen on yourself first before assisting loved ones). It becomes hard and sometimes impossible to keep a promise when your health is poor, during family crises, overwhelming work demands and faith commitments. It’s unhealthy to juggle multiple obligations at the risk of fatigue and improper diet. A promise is a promise except when you physically can’t perform, and that’s the beauty of Toastmasters where you are never alone unless you choose to be.

Toastmasters is where leaders are made and meetings are fun. The fun factor diminishes when you are not at your best. When challenged to “keep your promise,” defer to your priorities. When you can’t show up because of LIFE, speak up! When you can’t step up because of current or upcoming obligations, speak up! In Toastmasters you are never alone, we’re family and friends who understand and want what’s best for every member. The mission of every club is to provide a positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.

Nothing stays the same. Time changes, things change, and people change. Fortunately, core values like integrity, respect, service and excellence are timeless. Let’s continue to build upon our founding father’s vision to create a collaborative learning environment where men/women can learn the art of public speaking, where leaders are made, where meetings are fun, where friendships are born, and where World Champion Speakers are revealed. Let’s continue to focus on our priorities as we show up, speak up and step up weekly, every other week and monthly to our safe spaces as proud promise keepers.



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