August 2018 – The Learners’ Guide to Core Values

Our values inform our thoughts, words and actions. How we behave, how we carry ourselves and ultimately how we are perceived has a lot to do with the personal values we adopt. They tell us how to behave and react. In other words, values are fundamental beliefs.

Organisationally, these fundamental beliefs are what binds us together as Toastmasters. The Toastmasters Core Values of Integrity, Respect, Excellence and Service shape how our clubs show up and operate in the world.

But like all organizational behavior jargon, they may appear vague and impractical to most. In this short article, I am attempting to flesh out:

1. what these values mean to me personally
2. what someone said in the past that relates to this value
3. direct actionable steps we can take to guide our decisions and actions

INTEGRITY
REMEMBER THIS PHRASE: “It’s not about you”

This is a big topic. Many have debated over the meaning of integrity. What exactly does it mean to have integrity? Some say it’s about doing the right thing even when nobody is watching or when it’s not popular.

The the 1st term, UBD-TMC achieved President’s Distinguished Club on the wings of our charter members’ enthusiasm. In the second term, we had a moral dilemma – to award a CC10 on the last meeting which would have upgraded us from Select Distinguished Club to President’s Distinguished Club. (The member did not meet the objectives of the project). My then-VPE Pranika and I decided to not award the CC and stay as a Select Distinguished Club for my second and final year as President of UBD-TMC. We knew that on record, it would look like we fizzled out in the 2nd term. And more importantly, we knew it was a true indication of the club status. To hide that fact would be a disservice to our club members.

What guided this decision? “It’s not about you, bro” – Shawn Cassidy Narcis.

Integrity is easy, when we remember that it’s not about us.

RESPECT
REMEMBER THIS PHRASE: “Anyone can be better”

I fundamentally believe that anyone from any level of society with a good attitude can a better communicator, a better leader, a better member of society and a human being. When we treat Respect as one of our core values, it becomes very difficult to judge and condemn anyone. Perhaps this is why Dananjaya’s “I See Something in You” is such a popular speech among Toastmasters.

NEXT ACTION:
When you are evaluating or mentoring, carry the belief that this member can be better. They just need to know how.

EXCELLENCE
REMEMBER THIS PHRASE: “Learn by doing”

“You can’t learn to swim by reading.” – Dunstan Chan
“This is not a concert. You can’t sit, enjoy the show and then expect to improve.” – Stuart Lee
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

NEXT ACTION:
Write and deliver that speech. Take up that leadership position. Do something.

SERVICE
REMEMBER THIS PHRASE: “Friends helping friends”
Steel sharpens steel, people sharpen people. Friends bring out the best in friends.

NEXT ACTION:
Watch the clip below.

Then go help a friend.

Written By: Reuben Chin, ACG, ALB

Writer’s Note – The inspiration for this article came from an extremely insightful talk by Dunstan Chan.

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