I officially joined Toastmasters International back in December. I first heard about the speech-giving organization seventeen years ago and it was recommended to me again a few years ago to improve my speaking ability. My natural approach ranges from silence to curt-monotone to brief-direct-scowl, so I am embracing this opportunity to learn some vocal and facial variety!

Fun fact: Toastmaster’s International values are Integrity, Respect, Service, and Excellence. The United States Air Force core values are Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. So I just need to (finally) be respectful. <– That’s a joke.

In Toastmasters, you get to choose out of eleven pathways for your speech giving and training path. The majority of these place a good bit of emphasis on management with the exception of Dynamic Leadership. If there is one thing I am good at, it is writing to-do lists and managing projects, and I am even better at managing the managing of projects (don’t get me started about thinking about thinking, meta-acronyms, or balefiring through gateways). So I chose Dynamic Leadership.

The first speech in any path is the Icebreaker, where you talk about yourself for four to six minutes. I chose to talk about how I got to where I am in the military, specifically how my dad, Scoutmaster, and former squadron commander positively influenced me. I have seven relatives or ancestors who were service members, going back to a Private during the Civil War. More recently, my grandfather was a sailor, my dad a Marine, my brother a soldier, and I became an Airman (perhaps one day a Guardian). My dad saw the opportunities in the Air Force and did not want me to become an infantryman “brainwashed to kill.” So he told me to join the Air Force and “learn something.” My scoutmaster lied about his age to enlist in the Navy in WWII. He told us the leadership phrase that he learned in the Navy was, “Know yourself; know your men; and know your job.” Lastly, I had a squadron commander whose style was similar to the leadership approach described in The One Minute Manager. He was direct, impersonal, and never demeaning. As a young officer, I was indecisive and he told me, “You’ll be a Captain soon; choose.”

Now I need to figure out the subject of my next speech. Ideas so far: Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the history of kettlebells, French press coffee, gardening, and the mud between my toes.

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