I wanted to bring to your attention that the quote “by an anonymous source” in Ahayasekara’s “What Type of Starter Are You?” (July 2006 issue of the Toastmasters magazine) is probably a brutal misquote of Marcel Proust’s “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” The fact that it’s been mangled so much is probably why the source was hard to determine.
This transformation of a profound quote from well-written literature into a far less articulate misquote seems to be only the beginning of what disturbs me about this article, even though it appears at the end.
While I appreciate the article’s attempt to motivate and inspire, I find both the thinking and the writing to be uninspired and motivating mostly to toss the article across the room in disgust.
I am shocked by the simplistic, unsubtle and vicious view expressed through the Victim/Survivor/Victor model. If I weren’t so horrified by the example, I’d have been lulled to sleep by it’s trite, cookie-cutter wisdom. Is this an exemplar of the best of what Toastmaster has to offer?
This view of personal fulfillment is simple and vicious. It’s convenient to blame a person for their condition, instead of taking the effort to assist them in achieving their goals. Further, helping of another is inappropriate if one does not stop to actually listen to the person’s needs as they articulate them and instead bullies them into performing the tasks that one thinks are for their own good. That’s arrogant and oppressive behaviour to be vigourously avoided.
This view of leadership is simple and vicious. The view expressed is that leadership is about personal achievement and success, which blithely ignores the way that the best of leadership is about helping others to become their best selves. Further, being a leader that is not focused on service to those being led is to be the worst kind of person in power, willfully insulating themselves from the real consequences of one’s leadership. That’s arrogant and oppressive behaviour to be vigourously avoided.
Is this then the goal of Toastmasters: to create simple and vicious people attempting to force themselves into leadership positions?
However, none of this should be much of a surprise when one sees the way that Proust’s words have been abused. It’s sloppy to resort to saying that a quote is “anonymous” just because the source is not known, especially when a simple search can reveal the source and the accurate quote itself. This lack of thorough and critical thinking about the quote is merely a fractal of the poor thought offered in the article. But, that is only the beginning of what disturbs me about this article, even though it appears at the end.