“As a leader, you must never sacrifice your integrity to achieve a goal.”

When Toastmasters International President-elect, Richard E. Peck, took the stage during Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) at District 41 in Kasauli, he started his speech in a power-packed yet casual manner. He told us to call him ‘Richard’ instead of the given title of President-Elect and asked us to feel free to speak to him during the breaks. This simple gesture reflected his humble personality as a leader and was already inspiring enough for me to reach out to him. It reminded me of how the most successful emperor in the history of the Roman Empire, Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD), lead by virtue rather than his title. 

Needless to say, we connected with Richard quite instantly. I was intrigued by his humble yet empowering approach to leadership. An MBA in International Business from the University of Texas, he has an impeccable understanding and appreciation of global cultures. In his keynote session, he highlighted the importance of team development and how we may have to put our lives in the hands of others. In one of his other sessions when he asked the participants to volunteer by sharing their thoughts, my hand automatically went up even though I did not have a particular thought in my mind. When I shared my experience on how Toastmasters had helped me in my personal and professional life, he gave me a shiny coin embedded with the core values of Toastmasters.

The coin was special because it reminded me of what was truly important in this journey – it is not what credentials or accolades we receive but who we become as an individual. The core values of Toastmasters: Integrity, Respect, Service, and Excellence are not to be compromised in the process of achieving goals. When Richard shared his firsthand experience as a leader who scaled the ladder of leadership at Toastmasters, it was evident that he always led by example and in a virtuous manner. From my experience as a Toastmaster, I believe that what we learn here should not be confined inside the club but we should use the learned skills to enhance our day to day lives. If practiced mindfully, the core values of Toastmasters help us become the best version of ourselves in personal and professional front. 

We will remain ever grateful to Richard for sharing his invaluable insights with such simplicity. It resonates with a line said by Albert Einstein: “ Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value”. 

Pankaj Pradhananga, Area A6 Director 

Published in Inkspire Issue 3. Click here for the full newsletter.

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