The personal development organisations that I’m a member of have a lot to answer for.  I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without them.  They have given me the skills, confidence and inspiration to take the plunge and try something new.  When I made the decision to take a break and try a different career direction in 2020, I obviously did not anticipate the lockdown situation we’ve all found ourselves in.  Despite some wobbles over the past few months, questioning what I’m doing, I am grateful for my memberships of these organisations.  My life in lockdown would be very different without them.  Here are some highlights of what they’ve given me: 

Development – Everyone has had to adapt to meeting online rather than in person very quickly.  Just like meetings in person, online meetings/seminars/gatherings can be very good, very bad and everything in between (something I know we’ve all been experiencing recently).  Through JCI I’ve been involved in virtual teams across the UK and the world for several years, so was already pretty comfortable with digital meetings.  My Toastmasters club quickly embraced online meetings and the opportunity to experiment with different ways of presenting via video and get feedback on how to hone your presence and effectiveness in a virtual setting has been immensely valuable.

Community – When you can’t see people face-to-face, feeling a part of a community is essential.  The network of interesting people has always been one of the most significant parts of being a member of JCI and Toastmasters and I’ve never felt their power as a community as much as I do now.  That community is global – thanks to everything now being online, there are events readily accessible in innumerable countries and it’s been wonderful to see members coming together and collaborating across the world.  I don’t know what life would be like without the Whatsapp groups of memes, videos and daily life stories and group zoom calls sharing challenges, feelings and giggles – they are keeping me connected and smiling.

Inspiration – One of the most important aspects of these networks to me is surrounding yourself with people with different skills, ideas and perspectives.  Seeing how those in different professions and circumstances are handling lockdown is another chance to learn.  They’re generally forward-thinking, creative and positive people and the things that they share inevitably provide food for thought.  When I’ve been struggling with enthusiasm, conversations with these friends have buoyed me up, motivated me to keep going and given me inspiration (like the one to write this blog!).

I’m guessing that pretty much everyone has had some kind of wobble over the past few months.  It’s these networks that keep me inspired, continually learning and optimistic about the future even in the most challenging of times – I can’t recommend them enough.

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

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