The Tree of Life [Meeting Report 2021-05-11]

What a great and special evening. Our meetings have become very international. We had the pleasure to welcome Karen Hennesy from Mexico, John Nieradka from New Jersey, USA, Kevin Schafer from Pennsylvania, Georgia from Greece, Mr and Mrs Hutchinson from Dallas, and – a bit late – Prince from Luxembourg. What a global spectrum of guests. All of them were intrigued by the post in Facebook about this special evening. Thanks to Craig for taking care of these PR activities. What was special about the evening?

Working on the path “Dynamic Leadership #5-4” Martin’s  project was to lead a panel discussion. He has chosen the topic “Life’s great adventures – Lessons learned” and he had three panelists – Sybille, Poorana and Oliver – who delivered personal stories about their lessons learned in life.

The first part of the evening was structured in the usual way. The toastmaster of the evening, Oliver, explained the structure and gave various views on the theme, the tree of life. Juan took over the role as timer again and she has become very good in this role. The word of the day, noteworthy, delivered by Juan, was well used in the course of the evening. Sybille’s joke fulfilled it’s task and made the members laugh:

        A man who smelled like a distillery flopped on a subway seat next to a priest.
        The man’s tie was stained, his face was plastered with red lipstick, and a half empty bottle of gin
        was sticking out of his torn coat pocket. He opened his newspaper and began reading.
        After a while he turned to the priest and asked, “Say Father, what causes arthritis?”
        “Mister, it is caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, too much alcohol and a contempt for your fellow man.”
        “Well, I’ll be dammed!” the drunk muttered, returning to his paper.
        “The priest, thinking about what he had said, nudged the man and apologized, “I am very sorry. I didn’t mean to come on so strong.
        How long have you had arthritis?”
        “I don’t have it, Father. I was just reading here that the Pope does.”

As a thought of the evening Sybille read and interpreted the poem “Think like a tree” written by Dr. Karen I. Shragg.

The guests participated very well in the table topics and gave very open and candid speeches to Poorana’s  five questions aligned to the theme of the evening.

1. “My biggest dream in life?” Juan talked about her fears speaking in front of an audience and is happy to be with Toastmasters to fulfill her dream of becoming a good speaker.
2. “My biggest failure in life? Jeff mentioned his urge to be perfect when he was younger. Luckily this self image has changed and perfection is not a priority any more.
3. “My greatest source of inspiration”. John is a scout leader and gets inspiration from mentoring the kids.
4. “The greatest pleasure in life”. JP’s greatest pleasure is the time he spends with his wife. They had their first wedding jubilee just a few days ago.
5. “The biggest mistake I have ever done.” Debbie shared with us the decision not to focus on her career but to stay at home to raise her two daughters.
From the current point of view this has not been a mistake at all, since the reward and inspiration she gained from her family was greater than any further education could have given to her.
Great speeches had been delivered
and the award of the best Table Topic speaker of the evening went to Debbie.

After the break the panel discussion started. Martin started with the words life is a great adventure full of love, hate, joy, sadness, failure and success. Key ingredients through life’s roller coaster are experiences and life stories. The panelists talked about their experiences in life and the lessons learned.
Sybille shared with the group a change process she had to face and which – after the suffering was over – had many opportunities for her. Her message was to stay open to change, connect with people and spot the door opening for you and go through it.
Poorana impressed us with his story about staying true to his principles. He did that in a difficult situation which paid off in the end.
Oliver told us about his adventure trip in the US years ago. Even though a lot of things went wrong he would never like to miss this adventure. His message is to focus on the positive side and celebrate achievements.

The project was evaluated by JP in the sandwich technique – mention the things that went well, give a few hints for improvement and then highlight what he liked best. JP did an excellent job in evaluating this long project, which was very much appreciated by our guests when they gave their feedback of the evening.

To round the evening off, General Evaluator Jeff  gave valuable and motivating feedback to everyone participating in the evening.

As Presiding Officer, Poorana concluded the evening asking for feedback from the guests. The guests were extremely happy about the evening and our club is growing which is a good sign for the high quality Mannheim International Toastmasters is delivering.

Our next meeting is on the 25th of May, we would love to have you join us!

Best wishes to you all, Jeff

Here is a snapshot of the evening:

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