This is, essentially, a hard post to write as 2020 obviously has not been a very good year in terms of the raging bushfires that caused destruction and death here in Australia early in the year and in other places around the world as well.
Then, of course, Covid-19 arrived seemingly, resembling a bad B-Grade Sci-Fi movie script that is causing illness, death, isolation and financial troubles etc.
I see a lot of posts on Social Media saying things like, ‘Farewell 2020, what an awful year,’ etc. This is quite understandable given what has happened/is happening.
Whilst overall, 2020 has been an awful year I believe it is a good exercise to turn the microscope on your own life and see what positive things have happened to you individually in this remarkable (for the wrong reasons) year.
We were not affected by the bushfires ourselves, though some people we knew were which did set the emotions running. Covid-19, however, affected our livelihood with both the Finance and Marketing sides of the business taking a huge hit due to lockdown etc.
Things on that front are in recovery mode now thankfully, largely due to my wife, Susan on the Finance side and an awesome group of people that she is working with. I have recently become part of that team.
The following ’things that went right’, although insignificant in the world as a whole, were significant to me/us.
- Completion of my Certificate IV Finance & Mortgage Broking course which allowed me to become a Finance Broker (after leaving a part-time role with a Bank) in December and better support Susan
- Attaining a new part-time role as an Entrepreneurship Facilitator (mentoring/assisting start-up businesses)
- Am currently studying the Diploma of Finance & Mortgage Broking
- My involvement in Toastmasters International is approaching its 13th year early next year and this year provided a few highlights including achieving the following:
- Distinguished Toastmaster (highest education and leadership level)
- Completed my High Performance Leadership Programme
- Completed by role as an Area Director
- Completed my role as a Club Coach
- Completed my role as President of Gledswood Club
- Received my first Triple Crown Education award
- Received a Leadership Excellence award
- (My Club), Gledswood Toastmasters achieved 10/10 becoming a President’s Distinguished Club. My Co-Club Coach Rhys Tague, the Executive and all the members contributed here and we are all continuing to grow the club
- I was the Toastmaster for the first time at a Division Contest
- Joined Red Point Artists Association at Port Kembla, NSW
- (At date) have completed 704 Watercolour Sketch’s a Day in a row. The goal back on 26 January 2019 was to acquire the habit of a ‘Daily Art Practice’
- Starting using Dip Pens for the first time
- Had a group of my Paintings on display for the very first time
- Sold my first and second paintings this year
- Recommenced Oil Painting
- This year I managed 100 posts on this blog for the first time ever
- Have now written in excess of 400 Poems (300 on this Blog)
Some ‘not so good things’ have also happened this year, presenting us with challenges we have or are in the process of overcoming in health and other areas. I think it’s important to learn from them but not dwell on them.
If you would like to, apply that Microscope to your own life and see (despite what has happened this year on the world stage), what good things have happened to you this year? If you want to, list them in the comments below or just comment generally.
Thanks to May @ Forever and Everly for the inspiration to do this post. You can check out her Blog here: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/59870465/posts/3090980068
Wishing everyone a Happier 2021!
Written by David Johnson
31 December 2020
On Friday, I had great pleasure in receiving my DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) plaque from Toastmasters International.
As an earlier post indicated, I reached the DTM level in Toastmasters last month which is the highest level.
Since 1924, more than 4 million people have benefitted from the Educational program.
As of 1 July 2020, the new Pathways Educational is now the only educational program in use. There are 11 Paths to choose from.
I joined Toastmasters back in March 2008 and by committing to the program and consistently striving to improve myself, taking on board the mentoring and points for improvement and putting them into practice, it changed my life in many positive ways. It can do the same for you too.
There is still more I can learn and whilst doing that, I can help others along the way, just like I have been helped. I am so grateful for the opportunities.
For more information: https://www.toastmasters.org/
Written by David Johnson
5 July 2020
Last week it was exciting to have achieved the highest Education and Leadership level in Toastmasters International, that of DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster).
There is no set time to achieve DTM, You do it at your own pace and whilst some Toastmasters are members of multiple clubs, in my 12 1/4 years in Toastmasters, I’ve been in one club (at a time), mainly.
So, what does that mean to a non-Toastmaster, i.e. what do you need to do to achieve it?
I have listed the requirements below that were needed to complete DTM (in the Traditional program):
10 speeches (mainly 5-7 minutes in length).
10 Projects (containing multiple roles ranging from meeting roles to serving on a club executive committee).
10 Advanced module speeches (mainly 5-7 mins but up to 40 mins). There were 15 Advanced manuals to choose from; plus 2 x 15 minute Educational presentations.
Served at least 6 months as a Club Officer; participate in preparation of a Club Success Plan; attend Officer training; conduct 2 x15 minute Educational presentations.
10 Advanced module speeches & 2 x15 minute Educational presentations.
10 Advanced module speeches & 1 x 15 minute Educational presentation or lead a Youth Leadership (6 weeks long) Program & mentored a member for their first 3 speech projects.
Serve a 12 month term as a District Leader, Serve successfully as a Club Coach, Club Sponsor or Club Mentor & complete a High Performance Leadership program.
Along the way you finish up doing more as its fun and you want to learn more and obtain more experience etc:
- I led 3 Youth Leadership courses and participated in several more.
- Participated (as a leader) in Speechcraft courses (for adults)
- Have served as a club officer 6 times including being President of two different clubs.
- Together with Rhys Tague (co-Club Coach) we have successfully built a new Toastmasters Club in the Macarthur Region and the club has achieved 10/10 in the Distinguished Club Program (achieving all Administration, Education and Membership goals) in it’s first year.
Toastmasters has been in ’transition-mode’ for the past few years and the Traditional Program stops at Midnight on 30 June 2020. The new Pathways Education Program has been in for a few years now and offers even more opportunities for learning and development in terms of communication and leadership.
I’m currently about to start Level 3 (out of 5) of the one of the 11 Paths called ‘Presentation Mastery.’
Being a committed member of Toastmasters has helped me have greater confidence (inward & outward) and I have learnt so much. There is still much more to learn though.
Why do I stay in Toastmasters?
- Continuing professional development
- A chance to pay it forward/give back to other members
- I’ve made many friends
I’ve included a link to the Pathways Education program should you wish to investigate it more. https://www.toastmasters.org/pathways-overview
If you would like to find a club near you that you can visit, there is a ‘Find A Club’ link on the same page.
Where to from here? I see the achievement of DTM as another stepping-stone to further professional development.
The journey is far from over!
As some of you may know, I’m a member of Toastmasters International and have been for 12 years this month. It has been a wonderful journey of learning, practicing and I have made many friends along the way, plus I am now a much more confident person in many ways, too.
At the same time, whilst Toastmasters is a great organisation and I highly recommend it, I also recommend sourcing information about Speaking skills from outside of it.
For quite a few years now I have been reading books about Public Speaking, Presentation skills, Leadership and general communication skills.
One such book is ’Steal The Show’ from Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches.
I first found out about the book when I came across Michael Port’s podcast on iTunes called ’Steal The Show.’
I feel the book is a ‘Goldmine’ of inspiration and information. Part One is ’The Performer’s Mindset’; Part Two is ‘Powerful Performance Principles’ and Part Three is ‘A Master Class In Public Speaking’ plus it has 50 Public Speaking tips at the end of the book.
If you are at all interested in improving your communication and public speaking skills, I would highly recommend reading this book. I will be keeping it as a reference book for many years to come!
Last month I had the opportunity to speak at my very First conference. It was held at the Pepper Manor House in the Southern Highlands of NSW. A beautiful, grand old house in quite a picturesque location.
I was invited to speak at ICCare (formerly known as Wollondilly Support and Community Care Inc) which is based in Picton, NSW but its coverage also extends to the Camden, NSW region.
ICCare provide quality, professional service/support to people who are frail, aged, people with a disability and their carers.
As with many of the general population, some of the staff have had challenges with public speaking and this is how the presentation came about.
Although my presentation was by PowerPoint, I was careful not to present too many slides with bullet points only, as this can be quiet boring for an audience.
Instead, (on some slides) I used images to represent ideas that I was talking about.
During the presentation, I gave tips on overcoming nerves, preparation, speech structure, public speaking techniques and also gave a demonstration of ‘Impromptu Speaking’ or “Thinking On Your Feet’ as it is sometimes known.
I then invited a member of the audience up and another member of the audience gave them a topic to speak on for one minute.
After that, I invited 4 members of the audience up to participate in a ‘Round Robin’ which is another Impromptu Speaking exercise but much more fun.
After a 20 minute question period we adjourned to lunch and shared a few stories.
I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience and can’t wait for the next public speaking opportunity!
Written by David Johnson
16 May 2019
For more information on the services provided by ICCare, please click on the following link: http://wsacci.org.au/
Now that I have been a member of Toastmasters International for 10 years, it’s a good time to reflect on the experience.
It has been a life-changer for me.
As a born introvert I know only too well the ‘apparent fear’ one experiences when one stands up before a group of people to speak, whether it is in a work or business meeting, or if you are asked to give a speech somewhere.
After 10 years of ‘investing myself’ in the programme, here’s what I have learned:
* The old adage ‘you only get out what you put in’ is totally true.
Out here in Australia, Clubs meet twice a month and I’ve missed perhaps 15 – 20 meetings in those 10 years. I would say that I’ve been to at least 240 Toastmaster meetings if you count the other Toastmaster clubs that I have visited in that time.
* The benefits I have gained/positive impact on my life are immense.
I wrote an article back in 2015 for this blog and will post the link at the bottom for I identified 18 ways my life has benefitted from being involved in Toastmasters.
I’ve even managed to progress from Introvert to Ambivert as well!
* I sometimes get asked, ‘Why do you keep going?’
Simply put, Education, Motivation, Friendship & Fun!
I can’t remember how many times that I felt like just going home and vegetating because I had a hard day at work or whatever. Whenever I went to the Toastmasters meeting, I always came out at the end, revitalised and re-energised.
Every meeting you learning something new, either about yourself or about public speaking/leadership and with each time you do a role and/or speak you grow that little more in confidence.
I’ve made so many great friends who are so supportive, and we have loads of fun.
* It gives you a chance to have a positive impact on other people’s lives
I can easily relate to how other people (especially Introverts) feel and can help them through my experiences. The membership individually and as a whole want people to succeed. We support them through their mistakes, want them to progress and use their skills out in the World at large.
Toastmasters Clubs also run Youth Leadership courses in schools and Speechcraft courses for adults.
I’m really looking forward to the next 10 years and beyond in Toastmasters. Here in Australia, we’ve just taken delivery of the new PATHWAYS Education programme. 10 Paths to transverse. I’ve selected, ‘Presentation Mastery’ as the one I’d like to begin with.
There is another old saying that says, ‘It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey…’, well this journey is one that I am ever so grateful for!
17 March 2018
To find out the way 18 ways being involved in Toastmasters has helped me, click on
If you would like to find out more, click on https://www.toastmasters.org/