“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
— Henry Stanley Haskins, Meditations in Wall Street, 1940
“What did I do to deserve this?”
The answer to that big question lies hidden in the small details.
Saturday, I attended the Toastmasters District 7 Celebration of Leadership awards. Our District Governor, Rose said it best (paraphrasing), “We celebrate those who work behind the scenes, often without any recognition. It takes over 100 people to run this district.”
Together, so many people were celebrated – Division Governors, Area Governors, a Rookie of the Year, conference organizers. The list goes on and on. (Go to the District 7 Facebook page to see some more of these outstanding leaders.) These are the folks who volunteer their time, publicly to learn some new skills and share in each other’s enthusiasm, but quietly to help their fellow Toastmasters succeed.
But the thing that caught my ear the most was one under-the-breath comment by an award recipient. “What did I do to deserve this?” she mumbled as she walked by me to the front of the room to accept her award.
It was an honest question. After all, we don’t always know what we have done when we are recognized. What we may take for granted, or do out of habit, may in fact be something quite extraordinary.
In this case, however, I know what she did. I worked side-by-side with this person all last year. As fellow area governors, we worked together to hold our respective speech contests. We also attended numerous meetings together, visited each others’ clubs, held officer trainings together, helped judge at other contests, and worked together at the district conferences.
After working with someone on a shared project, you get to know him or her better. You start to get a glimpse of what makes them tick. What makes that person unique. What lies within.
I can therefore say without reservation that this is one of the most helpful, supportive, and friendly people I’ve ever worked with. When there was work to be shared, she took the lion’s share. When projects needed to be started, she put the keys in the ignition. And when it came time to do … she did.
Her friendly smile was not just recognized by me, I heard it again and again from other Toastmasters throughout the year. Her hard work wasn’t just witnessed by me, she seemed to be at every event in our division, helping out, lending a hand, and being supportive.
One particular story epitomizes her attitude. We had scheduled joint spring contests for our respective areas. We had divvied up the tasks. About a week before the contest though, I discovered that my son and daughter’s band concert was the same night. As a parent, it was a concert I didn’t want to miss.
I called this person and told her the situation. Without a pause, she said not to worry, she’d handle everything. I felt bad, but when I got to the contest after attending my kids’ concert, everything was done. And done well. She even handed me the microphone with a smile to make the final announcements, effectively giving me a lot of credit where I had earned none.
“What did I do to deserve this?” she asked last Saturday as she walked up to accept her award.
A lot. That’s what. With an attitude to envy. That’s why you won the award for Area Governor of the year, Syrena. The folks in District 7 Toastmasters were watching and they really appreciate it. As do I.
And to all of you out there not only in District 7 Toastmasters, but in the world. To those of you wondering if anyone notices the hard work you put in everyday without fanfare or applause. Giving your time to help support others.
Raise your glass in celebration of yourself today! Because there are people watching you succeed. Because you are making things happen. Making a difference.
A toast! To you!
You deserve it.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Spoke at a new Toastmasters club this morning. Not really a gift, as they gave more to me than I gave to them … More importantly, with this post, tried to give credit and recognition to an honored Toastmaster who is emblematic of the many people who give their time to help others.