In the last podcast, I talked about the Pathways assessment. I mentioned you’re not stuck with their recommendations if you don’t like the results of your assessment.
There are plenty of reasons not to like the choices they offer you. A 25 question assessment is only so good. It doesn’t read your mind or know your future.
While I see the assessment produce good results most of the time, there’s no reason that you have to blindly accept them.
I’m going to be honest here. I think some of the names of the pathways are… cliche? Unclear? Exactly what does Visionary Communication mean? When I got that from my first time taking the assessment, I had no idea what that meant. Are we talking about leadership or communication? Storytelling or how to do PR? I didn’t find the title very helpful.
I know I’m not alone. I’ve talked to a number of new and experienced Toastmasters who have said the same things. “Word salad” and “leadership jargon” were among the comments.
I think it’s unfortunate that the titles don’t convey their scope or purpose. However, that doesn’t mean that the pathway fails to provide a positive education. It does mean that we have to get more information to make a smart decision.
Why was Visionary Communication recommended to me? I think because Presentation Mastery is an introduction to public speaking skills, and I, as a DTM, have already gotten through the basics. So when I answered the questions in the assessment that I am extremely comfortable writing and presenting speeches, the recommendation wasn’t going to be for Presentation Mastery. Visionary Communication is the logical next step for me… without ignoring the need of the beginner who finds that title more inspiring or more appealing.
The Results of Your Assessment
You’ve got three choices in front of you. We’ll call them A, B, and C.
A may represent more of your vision for what you came to Toastmasters to learn. Whether it’s public speaking or leadership skills, it sounds good. In fact, it’s exciting!
B looks… challenging. It’s not what you expected. Instead of being the obvious choice, it’s a bit out there. Maybe more than you think you want. Or maybe not. You’re intrigued.
C is out of left field. What on earth did you say that got that result?
In this situation, it’s pretty easy to throw out C and stick with A.
Not that I’m discounting C.
The Power of the Unexpected
That C option – the one out of left field? – might be easy to dismiss. Here’s why you might want to consider it after all.
It might be that one project in the Pathway corresponds specifically to a need you expressed during the assessment. I have horrible time management skills – it’s been a lifelong battle. I wouldn’t have thought that Leadership Development was a pathway for me – but there it was. Why? Because time management is a specific project in that Pathway.
And that’s why I picked Leadership Development as my first pathway.
What’s the difference?
But what if you get Dynamic Leadership and Leadership Development? How do you choose?
You need more information. Toastmasters provides more information about each Pathway on the website. Go to toastmasters.org/Start-Pathways/Recommendations for a list of the Paths. Click on each one to get more information about the path. Do the projects listed sound like what you want or need to work on? If you’re trying to decide between Dynamic Leadership and Leadership Development, you’ll see that the differences between them aren’t significant until Level 3. But at that point, one might be more attractive to you.
Are the results of your assessment wrong?
If none of the recommendations appeals to you, or if you’ve already chosen the Pathway you want, go for it. You are not bound by the results of your assessment.
You can pick whatever Pathway you want.
But the most important thing is that you decide. Don’t wait around! If you make a selection today and tomorrow discover that you want something else, you have 30 days to change without any additional charges. The work you do on the first pathway is the same across all Pathways. You won’t be wasting your time or effort.
Wait, you want more information? Next, I’ll talk about some resources… and how you can find them to help you decide.