Have you ever been working on a document for hours and have your computer crash and realize that you forgot to save it? Have you written in a journal for months and suddenly it comes up missing? Have you lost your wallet and had the agony of replacing all of your credit cards? I had an experience like this in 1999 that ended up changing my life but I almost missed it. I almost gave up. I almost gave into the temptation to quit.
I first joined Toastmasters in 1996 with a club at SDG&E in San Diego. It was a great club and it really helped me grow. As a new member I received my “Communication & Leadership” manual consisting of 10 speech projects that when completed would lead to a “Competent Toastmaster” award. Soon I was giving my first “icebreaker” speech and I progressed from there. I moved to a different club in 1997 and worked on completing the basic C&L manual. When I changed jobs in 1999 and took a job close to home in Murrieta, I had completed 9 speeches in the manual.
One more speech and I would have the CTM award. I visited a local club in Temecula in 1999. I joined the day I visited and prepared to give my 10th speech. As I went home that day I searched around for my basic C&L manual. I couldn’t find it. I searched frantically in file boxes and anywhere I could think of to locate it. It had completely disappeared. Four years of hard work was gone. I never did find the manual.
The frustration of losing something that I had worked so hard on was really tough. I kept searching for the manual and the frustration just got worse. Finally I had to make a decision. I would have to start from the beginning. I would need to buy a basic manual and start with the icebreaker speech again. I didn’t know if it was worth it. After all my goal in Toastmasters was to get my CTM (10 speeches) and that would be it. Instead of giving just one speech, now I would now need to give ten.
I almost gave up.
I knew it would take at least a year to give 10 speeches. Was it worth a year of my time just to get back where I already was?
Luckily for me, someone told me it was!
In fact many members of the club encouraged me. They not only encouraged me to give 10 speeches but to go on.. to give the advanced speeches… to become a club officer… to go all the way.
I made a decision that day that would forever change my life. I started over from the beginning.
This year in June I made it “all the way” to the highest award Toastmasters has to offer. That of Distinguished Toastmaster.
I would never have made it unless I started over. My loss turned out to be my gain. Had I not lost the manual I would have done the tenth speech and then dropped out.
I am forever grateful to those club members who gave me one of the greatest gifts imaginable. The gift of encouragement.
I now face a similar situation. All of my domain names and my web sites that I have worked on over the last 6 years are gone. Tied up with a domain company that I cannot communicate with. My frustration level is very high. Especially with this blog. As you may have noticed I’ve had to change this domain from a dot com to a dot org. Any link that was pointing at the dot com address is now pointing at a search site. My site statistics now read zero.
For the past few weeks I’ve wondered if I should just quit. Give it all up… let the hackers and a lousy domain company win.
I don’t need this web stuff. I don’t need this blog. I don’t need to spend hours of my time writing things of dubious importance.
But then I went back and read the letters of encouragement that I have received from you. The kind and encouraging words.
I’ve made a decision.
I’m going to start over.
I’m going to start from scratch.
Look for new things soon.
Thanks for the gift!