When I joined Toastmasters in 2001 I was caring for a terminally ill parent, I had just gotten divorced and I was in the worst rebound relationship of my life. I was craving attention and acceptance. I had been beaten down by life and my club gave me a place to be myself. Then 9/11 happened, my mentor died in the World Trade Center, and 4 months later my mother was gone too. I needed it more then ever. I found something to be excited about. I feel in love with Toastmasters right away. I signed up for everything. I knew I was different then most of the people I saw in leadership. I was loud, I laughed a lot, I spoke my mind, I was brutally honest. It is who I am. The place I needed the most was both a place of love and heartbreak. I was shunned. I was told I wasn't the kind of leader "they" wanted. I was picked on by some, embraced by more. I was told I could not, I should not, and I would not be a leader. And I told them "F$&k you". Sometimes to their faces. I persisted until I was elected. And then I was elected again, and again, and again. Finally they blocked my nomination for the Director role but still I persisted. And then I won. At the end of the year our District was #13 out of 90 plus districts in the world. I had finally won.
I had won the title of successful leader but I had won so much more.
I won temperament
I won respect
I won love
I won patience
I won knowledge
I won expression
I won over critics
I won over self doubt
I won over bullying
I won knowing myself
Being a leader is hard because you have to learn so much about yourself. You have to learn its not personal all the time. You have to learn that collaboration is great but someone has to be the leader in the end. You have to learn to take the high road. You have to learn when open and close your mouth. You have to learn which of the many hills you will face is the one that you will need to die on.
And then you learn that there are more important things to life then being a leader in non-profit, volunteer organization and where you want to fit in.
I still love the year I was in my leadership role. It was one of the best years of my life. Leadership is hard. But if you stick with it, don't take it too seriously, have fun, you too can win so much.