Thursday, March 05, 2015

B&T Talks About Stephen Covey's Habit #3: First Things First

The Importance of Delivering Your TM Speeches
by Gege Sugue

This was originally posted in our printed newsletter program for the February 27 meeting--the 3rd in a series tackling Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Mentor: Hey! You said you’d deliver your next speech in the next meeting. That’s about two weeks from today. Send me your speech as soon as possible so I could give you my input.”

Protégé: I’m afraid I have to postpone that speech.

Mentor: But you’ve been postponing this for 2 years.

Protégé: I know. It’s just that we have this huge project. And my boss wants me to do overtime work every night.

Mentor: Oh, how about meeting after next?

Protégé: I can’t. A balikbayan friend is coming, and that will be the only day available for our barkada to meet. You know how it is.

It’s a familiar conversation. I’ve heard it from others. I’ve been part of it, both as the mentor aka nagger and the one being nagged. I have even heard it in my own head with my own conscience bugging me to finally work on my next speech. And I can feel for both the mentor and the protégé.

We’re just so busy these days. But who isn’t? Who isn’t trying to juggle work, family, school, relationships, hobbies, health activities, and social life? And how are we supposed to add on top of that twice-a-month meetings plus the time it takes to prepare, rehearse, and deliver speeches?
It’s tough. And it is most likely that among the above priorities, Stephen Covey calls them the big rocks, our family and our source of livelihood are the big rocks that come first. Toastmasters--less important, less urgent. I get that.

Stephen Covey’s Time Management book, First Things First, highlights Habit #3. He suggests a 2x2 matrix to categorize our tasks according to urgency and importance. Where each task falls into the quadrants tells you what to do about them.

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Where does your Toastmasters life come in? Only you can answer that. Your own life purpose and values would clue you in on the answer. I am guessing that for a lot of us who decided to invest money for the membership dues, we have made that conscious choice to develop our leadership and communication skills through Toastmasters. I am guessing that for us who made that conscious choice, we did so because we think it’s important. As such, we have to prioritize it. We have to bump other activities as less important. We have to plan for it. We have to set aside time to make our investments in time and money worthwhile.

Toastmasters are some of the busiest people I know—successfully managing businesses, careers, family.  And I admire how they do so while also finding the time to play active roles in the Toastmasters organization, while advancing in their norms.

I admire my own protégé Penny Bongato—talk about busy. She’s constantly working, traveling, fulfilling her role as wife and mother. She is admired in her field and in her advocacies, and she is already an accomplished speaker. It would be so easy for her to just give up and say she’s too busy. But she doesn’t. Self-development and the goal of being an inspiring speaker drive her to plan, prepare, and deliver her speeches, no matter how challenging it may be. She targets a specific date for her next speech project, and then she sends her speeches way in advance so that her mentors could comment and make suggestions. Then she sets aside time for rehearsing her speech. She is proactive, aware of the end in mind, and she puts first things first. I am sure it is not easy. But she follows what Stephen Covey said: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”  

Is Toastmasters important to you? Can it help you be the person you want to be? Can it help you succeed in your goals? Then make it one of the first things. 

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