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A-Ten-Hut: Today's Lessons from Toastmasters: Misconceptions about Leadership Skills

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

"A-Ten-HUT"! A term I have heard many times. No, I was not in the military. I was however a member of a military drill team, and later a coach. This was the title of my speech, and these are the 3 main lessons I learned:

Preconceived misconceptions can block understanding. We talked about sports today, listing many of them; football, basketball, golf, soccer, bowling, gymnastics, swimming, wrestling, track and field, lacrosse, badminton, and more. As you can see, there were individual sports and team sports that came to mind, and understandably. When posed with the question if cheerleading, drill team, dance team, flag teams, etc. are sports, there were mixed responses. I argued that yes, these are ABSOLUTELY sports. Through discussion of what makes a sport a sport, we came up with the standard thoughts that sports require physical activity, need practice, are competitive, and require coordination. When diving deeper into the question, we came up with more and more attributes that are required to participate in sports, involving both the body and the MIND, and how these are further developed over time. Here is list of what we gain from sports participation:

  • Teamwork

  • Commitment

  • Quick thinking

  • Critical thinking

  • Decision-making

  • Problem-solving

  • Confidence

  • Leadership skills

  • Communication skills

  • Commitment

  • Discipline

  • Following directions

I am sure there are more that can be added to this list of characteristics. Once we identified these additional components, there is no denial that cheerleading, drill teams, dance teams, flag teams, etc. are indeed sports. There is no denying that all of these attributes are directly transferable and can be applied in our careers as well as personal lives. Discussion alone doesn't always sway everyone's opinions, which leads to the second lesson.

2. Experiencing is the best path towards understanding. I can express my opinion all day long but unless you experience it personally, you won't fully get it. Thank goodness I had ample time today and could incorporate audience participation, and with such a fun group of folks. I didn't want my audience to just hear what it is like to participate on a drill team, I wanted them to EXPERIENCE it, and boy did they ever. We stood, I taught, they learned, we practiced, and then... A-Ten-HUT performance time. They did GREAT!! Granted, the routine was only arm movements of eight counts but still, well done from these good sports! They got to experience all of the above, side-by-side with their peers, feeling a part of a movement, relying on each other to move in the correction direction, and hopefully a bit of pride. Now I did recognize that not all of them readily stood up to participate, which is why I include the third lesson.

3. Comfort zones are meant to be stepped out of. Who says we have to live in a box! Step outside the box, they say. Get out of your comfort zone, they say. I say let's not have a box to have to step out of. If our mindsets have no borders that predefine comfort and discomfort then it is easier to explore unfamiliar territory. Let's get rid of being boxed into our cozy corners and practice trying things that are new and different. Explore on!

What do you call a financial advisor, an architect, and a professor performing a drill team routine? A fun group of good sports.

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