If You Fail To Plan

Tips From Our Past

If You Fail To Plan, You Are Planning To Fail

by Jared Kronenberg, DTM, PDG

Jared Kronenberg

This mantra was repeated over and over during club officer trainings and district leadership sessions. I wasn’t sure what it really meant until I became a club president. As I am sure everyone experiences, club officers come from one of two categories: those who are passionate and want to serve vs. those who were “arm-twisted” (or “volun-told”) to fill a position. Although each group has different motivations for taking on their officer responsibilities, both have the same goal: to be successful.

I have taken positions where I had a good idea of what was required (or thought I did…), but I didn’t have a handle on the year until I sat down with my fellow officers and began talking about our goals. Some people would emerge with their “big ideas” of how to completely transform the club into a beaming metropolis of constant visitors and engaged members. Others would use their past experiences—either as a club member, an officer, or both—to “correct” those wide-eyed officers to the error of their ways, identifying assumptions that will “never work” and serving as the devil’s advocate to all changes. Still, there are others who spent most of the time remaining quiet, listening to everyone, and providing opinions and limited comments that are usually profound and insightful.

In my lawyerly way, I submit that there is a place at the table for all of these officers. Knowledge of the past is instructive, openness to new ideas is vital, and a willingness to try something new is brave. No one likes to be the first to suggest that something isn’t working, but we should embrace those comments and recognize that they are not meant to be destructive, but rather an honest recognition that the club is not meeting a specific need of a member (or many members, as the case may be). On the other hand, a new year is not the time to throw out everything done by our predecessors. Just because our names are not attached to something doesn’t mean that it is wrong and cannot be touched.

We are all in Toastmasters to improve ourselves. Let’s treat this new year, with new officers, and hopefully lots of new members, as our chance to make meaningful changes and recognize that different does not mean wrong. Instead of letting the process play itself out, venture into this opportunity with purpose and create a plan that every member can be a part of and contribute to. Let this Toastmasters year be the year to embrace the past… and the new… together.

This… is a true plan for success.

Jared Kronenberg, DTM

Past District Governor (2014-15), District 65

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