Sunday, 1 April 2012

Pursuing excellence

At the beginning of the year, as most of us do, I decided to sign myself up to the gym (again), give my house a serious clean and to think about ways for personal improvement. Yes I know, grab your sick buckets, next I’ll start talking about the latest self-improvement book on my bedside table.

I have actually joined a club called Toastmasters, specifically the Cheltenham Speakers club. The idea behind Toastmasters, which is a now a worldwide membership programme, is based around helping people of all abilities to improve their off-the-cuff and prepared communication skills. What I love about the concept of Toastmasters is that it about positive learning experiences and that over time you do get to see people’s communication skills improve tremendously.

When I joined, many of my colleagues were intrigued as to why someone, that they thought was a total chatterbox and certainly didn’t have any issues with speaking, would be joining a club to improve their communication skills. Well, my reason for joining was based on the concept that you can always improve and also that you can always learn from other people. Interestingly, Barry one of the members in my club said that his friends had said a similar thing when he joined. He told me that he had always been told to “focus most on the things that you are good at, so that you can become great at them. After all, what do you think Serena Williams will be doing tomorrow morning?”

I have to admit, I was quite taken aback by Barry’s comment but actually he made a good point. As long as you don’t avoid trying to improve the things that you are not so naturally gifted in, it is important to make sure that you pursue excellence. After hearing what Barry had to say I knew that I was in the right place.

At the tender age of 13, I received my annual school report with the traditional one sentence wonder from my headmaster at the end, except this time it read “Jenny is a good all-rounder, no areas specifically exceptional but good in all areas”. Well, read that how you will but it has stuck with me since and spurred me on to make sure that I always make an impact.

I don’t want to be an average Joe, and I certainly don’t intend to be.

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