WhatsApp is just a short message application to many people, and whether they have it or not, it really does not make a difference. But to me, it’s a whole lot more than that. It was on the 7th January 2017; a time famous for new-year’s resolutions that I received an unexpected WhatsApp message from the then Division S Director; “What are your new year’s resolutions, perhaps you should consider joining Toastmasters.”
The daring message was followed by an elaborate video of what Toastmasters is about. The spellbinding video made me realise how this Toastmasters “thing” could help me in my profession.
And it was just what I needed. As if that was not enough, he sent me another message telling me that he could even mentor and help me through my first three speeches. “Wow!” I exclaimed. “This Toastmasters ‘thing’ comes with endless benefits,” I said to myself. As a leader with integrity, he lived true to his word; back and forth messages were exchanged and he geared me up for my first three speeches. Fast-forward to today; when I meet a new member, I confidently assure them that a mentor will be there to guide them through.I have often heard successful people say; “If you want to go far, get a mentor.”
Personally, I learned about mentorship in Toastmasters. A lesson I will forever cherish.
As a founding President, I received two club mentors. Oh! There is mentoring everywhere in this place. As I walked down Toastmasters Avenue, I realised that there are great people from whom I could draw lessons. The beauty of it is that one does not need a formal mentorship relationship to be mentored. My first Toastmasters mentor; Gaoretelwe Molebalwa said; “Keamo, now you are ready to fly on your own.” This was only after my third speech. Frankly, I was not ready but it gave me the confidence to fly. It was not long before I realised that I was not on my own. There are and have always been mentors everywhere. I have since upgraded him to “informal mentor status.”
I have lots of mentors around me. And most of them are not even aware that they are my mentors. Sometimes formalizing things breeds boredom. I am tempted to name them but I’m apprehensive because the next time they see me, they might run away from me. Eighteen months later and I’m still building my circle of mentors and it’s growing in leaps and bounds. Gaoretelwe Molebalwa, Monde Mjila, Andrew Tsuro, Vuyi Vithela, Dr. James Ramakau, Karen Levy Strauss, Sandra Cooper. Shhh…don’t breathe a word to them, they don’t know except for Karen Levy Strauss.
As I walk down Toastmasters Avenue ,every direction I turn I see a mentor. What do you see when you look around?
Keamo Molebalwa CC
Area A5 Director