We return, sadly, to the “big fish” dilemma. Will you allow me a moment, and offer advice?

A number of things went really well today. Among them, I had a coworker come up after I ran my first 100+ person meeting to say, “You’ve convinced me to join Toastmasters. I want to speak like you.” Fantastic! I tell him I’ve also got four years of theatre training and years of performing, but this is the easiest entrance for him.

At the TM meeting, a couple of the young guys come to ask for advice. Again, fantastic! Let me help you become a better speaker. I’ll review scripts, forward articles, critique, whatever!

But one anonymous comment comes through after I speak: “Once again, Ivan shows he’s too good for us.”

“Oh,” I think, crestfallen, “this poor person. It must suck to feel that way. Maybe I ought to stop giving speeches to the group. I don’t want to discourage anyone.”

Fortunately, I stop to think. I LIKE speaking. It’s why I joined. It’s why I’ve applied more energy to meeting these goals than anything since finishing the Gentleman Ghouls trilogy, or getting in shape. Why should I stop doing what I love to make this person more comfortable?

“Because showing compassion to their feelings is the right thing to do.”

Well … is it? It’s what Ivan tends to do, but is it the right thing to do?

I’m honestly torn by this. I could stop speaking at my main club and focus on the educational and administrative parts of that club, while speaking at the sister club and others in the area. That would still let me reach my goals, but would also mean potentially pushing someone else out into the cold, in addition to taking up speech space the other clubs sorely need.

I could just quit speaking for a while. I’ve made a huge amount of headway already, and the feedback I get now is minor. I could focus on the leadership portions. By which I mean, the portions that hold less interest to me, but which need to be checked off in order to achieve the goal.

Despite all the evidence that many people want me to speak and find my work inspiring, inconveniencing or hurting one person seems to throw all that praise out the window. I realize I’m giving this anonymous person too much power over my decisions – but to laugh it off, throw their criticism away, and keep doing what I love seems so very selfish.

On the other hand, there are people who want to learn from me. I do no good to them by surrendering to this commenter.

I lay aside the gift with which I wish to serve people.

Why are the needs and insecurities of this one person so important to me, even when I don’t know who they are?