Kristen was nervous and shaky when she gave her first speech. But I saw the sparkle in her eyes and felt the warmth of her smile from across the room. I knew she would do well in this group. I sensed that each time she gave a speech, there was a voice inside her excitedly whispering, "Look at you go! You're doing it." And when she returned to her seat, an expression of giddy delight spread across her face.
Our Toastmaster club recently solicited nominations for officer roles for the coming year. It's common that the Toastmasters clubs in my area have a difficult time filling the seven officer positions. It is not uncommon for one or more offices to be left vacant for any given year. So it was wonderful when Kristen and another member both announced they wanted to run for the presidency.
At first Kristen was tempted to withdraw from the race. She wasn't sure if she could win. She knew her opponent had campaigned for the presidency the year before and lost. She knew that he was well loved by the club. But she also knew that she wanted to serve as president. She had ideas for the club, enthusiasm, and some trusted advisors who encouraged her to stay in the race.
It would have been so easy for Kristen to step back and let the other person win by default. But when she asked my advice, I encouraged her to stay the course. I told her of a similar position I was in in 2001 when I wanted to serve as a Toastmasters area governor. But a man I highly respected announced that he also wanted the position. Rather than campaign against a man I didn't think I could beat, I bowed out of the race.
And while there were many factors that influenced my decision, I've always wondered if I could have won. I wonder if the other factors became convenient excuses to withdraw. I wonder if fear of failure is what kept me from trying. I wonder if I would have found a band of supporters and advisors who would have helped me with this challenge. But I'll never know. And that lack of knowledge, that willingness to quit, sometimes shadows my spirit.
Although Kristen did not win the presidency, she was able to hold her head high and know that she did her best to achieve her goal. She told me, "It's okay. I have other things to do now."
While I know she was disappointed, that sparkle in Kristen's eyes remained bright. She was already planning for her next race. She'd told me that if she didn't win, she would serve a second term as Vice President of Membership -a role no one else had offered to fill-and work on an advanced speaking designation.
She wasn't going to let the result of this one contest keep her from the other races she could run. She knows that while not every race run in life is against someone else, she should always try for personal best.
Kristen reminded me that we must choose our races and then choose whether or not to run them. Kristen showed me that it's better to run. I remember telling her to "Go for it!" I didn't realize at the time that her spirit would "Glow for it."
Copyright © 2005 Donna Doyon
Donna Doyon, Activities Coordinator for Your Virtual Retreat is the author of GLOW: Renew Your Spirit & Release Your Inner Beauty. She offers information, inspiration and encouragement to people who want to say goodbye to self defeating attitudes and behaviors and hello to greater success, healthier relationships and more joyful living.
Get inspired at her website: http://www.donnadoyon.com