How I Was Given A Vision of Excellence by Dana LaMon, Speaker and Author

When you join Toastmasters International, you fill out and sign a membership application. Most people, including myself, barely read it but there is a large section where it spells out the Toastmasters pledge. When you sign the agreement, you agree to abide by the principles in that promise. This includes being willing to serve as a club officer when called upon.

I have never hesitated to serve as an officer, which I have done for years in my club. It’s ironic that the best Toastmasters Learning Institute (TLI, the semi-annual officer’s training) I have ever attended was while I held no office at all.

The keynote speaker for the TLI was Dana LaMon. He holds an incredibly unique position in the Toastmaster realm. He is the only person who has won the World Championship of Public Speaking who is also an Accredited Speaker, of which there are only 70 total. Dana is an in-demand professional motivational speaker, so we were fortunate that he lived near and that he was willing to be part of our training.

Dana’s keynote speech was called “Visions of Excellence” and pulled principles from his book “The Excellence Book: 104 Principles for Living and Working.” The speech title is both a call to action and a play on words. Dana has been blind since he was four years old.

Here are two of the most important things that I took away from the speech.

Principle #2 states that “Excellence demands that you do your best, not be the best.” When you judge your own performance, you alone are qualified to decide if you have done your best. To “be” the best, it takes other people putting judgment on you.

Principle #90 is the idea that “Quality can be controlled and time can be managed, but people must be loved.” To me, this says that people cannot be controlled, which most people who aren’t control freaks understand (although many wish it were true). And, even though it is a commonly used phrase “to be a manager,” people also cannot be managed. They can’t be moved through force or manipulation. You have to work from a place where you respect and appreciate people. For some, “love” is a strong word. In this case, it is meant in the sense of the Greek word “philia” which means friendship, not as in “eros” or passionate love.

I appreciated the opportunity to learn and grow in excellence while surrounded by excellent Toastmasters.

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