Pathways Choices: Resources to Help

Pathways Choices Toastmasters 101 podcast

It’s time to choose a pathway.  Pathways choices seem more complex this time around.

Decisions in Pathways Choices

There’s been a bit of grousing in Toastmasters land these days.  As the days of the Competent Communicator wane, I see a lot of people mourning a loss that maybe they didn’t expect.

Since I’m still working on a last CC manual, I guess I’m not ready to mourn just yet since I don’t miss it.  But as I make my pathways choices, I’m a bit nostaglic, not for the Competent Communicator, but for the simplicity of the advanced manuals.

Is choosing a pathway that difficult?

Only in my mind.

I’ve been coaching people through this process so long that I feel a bit numb about it.  We have talked on the podcast about the Pathways Catalog and the Pathways Companion Guide – I have links to both of them in today’s show notes – I’ve read all of these project descriptions several times.  I’ve done many of the projects – or at least used the evaluation forms for them.

I wanted to see what the new member would see if they picked a pathway based on what the TI website shows.

So I called Gary at Toastmasters International in the education department.  I think Gary and I are becoming friends, because he knew me right away and totally gave me what I wanted.  Gary probably has good software that tells him I’ve called before and what my email is, but I still think he’s my friend, because he immediately emailed me a screen shot of the new on-boarding screen that new members get.

It’s got the important details – member ID number, how to get started changing the password, how to sign in, and three other options for additional information about Toastmasters.  We can watch testimonials from other Toastmasters, read the Toastmasters Online Magazine, and get linked to the Official Toastmasters International Members Group on Facebook.

That’s better than I got back in the day, but it’s not really giving me much on how to pick my pathway.

Pathways Choices then and now

Logging on and taking the assessment has not changed.  This time, I’m answering questions differently – after all, this is my third Pathways choice, so those answers had better change.  I get the three suggestions and I’m ready to discover what is in these paths.

Gary and I talked about how smart it would be to have links to the pathway description pages from the selection page and hopefully, some TI IT guy (you know I’ve been waiting to say that for months) will get on that.  Instead, I have to leave the selection page and head back to the main menu to go to the Pathways option, and then pick Learn More.

This is why it is called “clunky.”  Links, please, TI!

On a desktop, I can open several pages and compare the 3 pathways.

Dynamic Leadership doesn’t interest me at all right now.  Visionary Communications was on my radar.  Motivational Strategies – my friend Elayne just finished this pathway and her Reflect On Your Path speech a couple of weeks ago made me think that it sounded interesting.

I think either of these would probably suit my immediate needs.  And looking at my life, I do see some opportunities that might become  leadership challenges.

Procrastination and Pathways Choices

So one choice is eliminated.  Maybe another time, Dynamic Leadership.

But if I’m a new Toastmaster, making this choice is still a little bit intimidating.  I’ve been a Toastmaster for a long time and it’s intimidating to me.

Do you know why?  This whole process feels very – final.  Like I’m making a decision that’s going to effect the rest of my life.  My career depends depends on this. single. choice.

I talked to TI’s member support team member Savannah today and asked a couple of questions about buyer’s remorse.  What happens when we make the wrong pathways choices?

Wrong Choice?

First of all, the world DOES NOT END as we know it.

Like buying a swimsuit in the US – your purchase is final if you wear the swimsuit – or if you open the Pathway program.  If you launch a single project, including the Ice Breaker, you’re committed.  TI pays for the Cornerstone on Demand platform per user.  You’re a user as soon as you launch a project.

No pressure there to pick the right project, right?  (choking sound)

October, Scary Movies and Scary Pathways Choices

Here’s the good news.  It’s not the end of the world.  It might cost you some money to change if you don’t like the choice you make, but that’s true about just about everything that you buy.

Buy we want to make the decision and make it right the first time.  That’s the crux of my procrastination.  I don’t want to waste my money and my time.

October is full of scary movies as we move closer to Halloween.  Maybe that mindset influences me right now.  I’m sure in other nations, where the cost of a Pathway is significantly higher, it’s scary to risk that kind of money on an investment.

So here’s my suggestion to you when faced with the pathways choices:

  1.  Ignore the name of the pathway.  Go to the Learn More section of the Pathways menu and look at the Pathways project names.  Read those and see if anything speaks to you.
  2.  Go to Base Camp and the Tutorials and Resources tab.  This screen gives you access to information that may help you make a wise decision.  You can get any project evaluation form from this page.  You can also get project checklists for every project in Pathways.  Not just your own!

The idea behind this was that we Toastmasters may be called on to evaluate any other speaker at any other level.  We need the evaluation forms.  Vice Presidents of Education may want to look at project descriptions to see that all the work for the project has been completed.  How will they know if a worksheet is to be done if they don’t have the checklist if they’re not on the same path?

It may be unintentional by Toastmasters, but it’s a great way to research your pathways choices.

Extra Resources

The Pathways Companion Guide provides a couple of graphics that I find very helpful.  I saw the options in the top 2 levels – levels 4 and 5.  That told me which project descriptions to look at (on one page, instead of flipping back and forth between tabs, which is a guarantee for me to forget what I was looking for.)

I took a look at the project descriptions of the Motivate Others and Develop Your Vision, the Level 5 projects for the pathways choices I have before me.

Motivate Others is designed for work inside a Toastmasters club.  Develop Your Vision is outward – I can use it for a project outside of Toastmasters.

In my role in my club and the district, I do a lot of this kind of work already inside Toastmasters.  To be honest, it sounds like something that won’t challenge me very much.  Now, I’m not dissing the project or working inside a Toastmasters club or format.

I think – for me – it’s coming down to – it’s time to take this learning and these skills outside the club walls.

For those of you in corporate clubs, you probably see this and maybe even get some pressure to use your Toastmasters skills in your jobs.  That may be why your club exists inside your company.  But as a member of a community club, I don’t have that same push.

But today, I’m going to take it.  I’ll purchase the Visionary Communication project now and get started on it tonight.

Buying a New Path

Here’s the thing with buying your second – or third – path.  You already know Level 1 pretty well.  It’s likely that in a thriving club, you’ve seen the Ice Breaker speech numerous times, and probably the other Level 1 speech projects.  It’s easier to go through them again.  It might also be easier to be a bit “oh, this again,” blase about it.

But I think it’s important for the club that these are demonstrated.  Not to intimidate, but to demonstrate how much we improve through Pathways.

Here’s the other thing about Pathways.

It doesn’t matter a lot which Pathway you pick.

The vast majority of the projects are exactly the same across the levels.  All of Level 1.  All but one speech of Level 2.  Level 3 has about a dozen speech electives that apply to everyone.  It’s when you get to Level 4 that you really see divergence – but it’s only one project.  Almost all of the elective projects apply to all paths.  Level 5?  Same thing.  The electives are available to everyone.

That’s why it’s important to know what you want based on researching the Level 5 required project – and equally important to know that most of your Pathways experience is going to be the same as everyone else’s.  So if you feel you’ve made a mistake – you’re not missing out on something critical to your life.  You’re going to be fine – and more informed when you faced with your next Pathways choices.

Wrap it up, Kim

A bit of research showed me that almost half of my listeners leave right about …. now, or in the next few seconds.  Therefore, I will quickly say – Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10 and our music is from and tell your friends to subscribe at slash subscribe.

Are you still here?  I just listened to my podcast number 29 on Contest Chair and Contest master and boy!  did I blow the editing!  How many times can I stumble over the same sentence?  According to that podcast, the magic number is 5.  Sorry about that.  A corrected podcast recording should be available by now.  As we say in the podcasting world – if you’ve got the original podcast download, you have a collectors edition.

See you next week on Toastmasters