When I provided an introductory session for highly skilled Toastmaster Ant Blair, my goal was to earn the privilege of providing him a program that blends training on how to effect change in one, brief conversation with coaching. Ant was quite engaged during his training. I was feeling optimistic about the outcome. Then at the end of his session, something totally unexpected happened. Ant was the one to effect change in one, brief conversation.
In addition to being a highly skilled Toastmaster, Ant is the CEO of Welcome Corporation, a diversity and inclusion training and consulting company. Through Welcome, he helps the craft beer industry attract and retain a diverse community of drinkers of small independent craft beer. Ant also hosts a YouTube channel and podcast, #MoHeadYall, where he utilizes his expertise as a Cicerone certified master of beer styles and service to benefit all who enjoy craft beer. According to Ant, beer head brings out the flavor of a craft beer.
In this article, I will show you how to effect change in one, brief conversation. I will share the conclusion of this relevant story to illustrate how Ant effected change in me.
When leaders think of their role in effecting change, they do not typically envision themselves as capable of effecting change in one, brief conversation. What comes to leaders’ minds instead: “Change is hard.” “People do not like to change.” “People resist change.” Every leader knows people who have failed many times effecting change, starting a new habit such as an exercise program or a diet or stopping a bad habit such as smoking cigarettes or swearing. Most leaders know people who no longer even make New Year’s resolutions because they “know” they would fail. Few leaders know how to effect change in one, brief conversation.
I help leaders learn to examine change from 3 different levels. Level 1 change is behavioral change, developing a new habit or stopping an old habit. Leaders have significant experience attempting to effect behavioral change. They have experienced failures and challenges associated with effecting behavioral change.
Level 2 change involves changing the way someone perceives a person, situation, or repetitive pattern. When someone perceives differently, they change their behavior accordingly. For example, at the age of 68, my father changed the way he perceived his retirement years. Then he got a psychology board game out of the attic that he invented in his 20s. He transformed that game into a program that utilized open ended questions, trained facilitators, and positive peer influence to help juvenile offenders and adult offenders learn to think, reason, and solve problems without violence. Between the ages of 70 and 80, my father with my mother by his side, traveled around the United States training facilitators. He touched thousands of peoples’ lives because he perceived his retirement included the opportunity to pursue his passion and purpose. My parents blended passion and purpose with traditional activities retired people typically love to do.
Level 3 change is owning perceiving as a creative act. When you own perceiving as a creative act, you can perceive any person, situation, or repetitive pattern at any moment in more than one way that fits reality, including an empowering way. When you own perceiving as a creative act, it is easy to help someone around you perceive differently and in an empowering way.
Now for the rest of my story. When Ant’s introductory session ended, he asked permission to give me constructive feedback. I agreed. He asked me if I knew I used the filler word “so” many times during my training. I had no idea I used that filler word even once. Then I listened to one of my LinkedIn videos. I was shocked to discover I used the same filler word six times in a two-minute video. Ant’s constructive feedback helped me perceive how becoming a Toastmaster would be beneficial to me and those whom I serve. He stimulated my thinking about what else I might learn in Toastmasters. I proceeded to join Ant’s Toastmasters club #2481. On June 24, 2019, I became Vice President of Public Relations for my club. This article is my first one that incorporates my new role with my work helping leaders elevate their skill to effect change in one, brief conversation. To quote Paul Harvey, “And now you know the rest of the story”.
If you are a skilled Toastmaster like Ant Blair, you can provide people around you with the additional benefits that result from your elevated public speaking and leadership skills. I am thankful to have Ant Blair as my friend and one of many Toastmaster mentors. If you are a leader or aspiring to become one, then I invite you to visit a Toastmaster club in your community to learn more about Toastmasters.
In conclusion, you can own perceiving as a creative act. You can perceive any person or situation in more than one way that fits reality. You can select a way that opens new possibilities for the future. You can then help someone around you change the way they perceive themselves or their situation. Through helping someone perceive differently, you can effect change in one, brief conversation. Ant helped me perceive Toastmasters differently and in a way that opens new possibilities for me and those whom I serve.