Leadership Opportunities – Don’t be shy

I never used to talk in meetings, though I believed I had great ideas. I was shy. After meetings I would have sleepless nights thinking about things I could have said. I was very comfortable living a life full of regrets.

I joined Toastmasters International and became a more confident person after just participating in meetings for four months. Note the trick, “participated in meetings”. I am now a person who asks to speak in meetings, I am not shy to speak in meetings anymore thanks to Toastmasters International.

I recently took part in Local Municipality By-Election in Huhudi as an Independent Candidate. I had campaigned before within Toastmasters for the role of District Public Relations Manager. I had a fair idea how to go about it from my Toastmasters experience. I knew I would be an underdog having to compete against ANC, EFF and COPE but it was something I had experienced before. It was different from the campaign journey I took in Toastmasters, yet it brought the same butterflies.

I remembered the words of Justin Prozesky DTM when he said that we need to let these butterflies fly in formation when delivering speeches. We should not allow them to silence us. I knew that butterflies were good, I learnt that from Toastmasters International. I had to face my fears and stand for what I believed in.

I believe that “WE DESERVE BETTER” as a society and that our society is failing because great leaders with sincere love of the people are not participating in shaping the direction of the society.

I recalled that I initially had refused to take on the role of Club President of Standard Bank Operations because I thought I was an underdog, and that I was fairly new in Toastmasters International. It was because of Sharon Cao’s belief in me that I decided to take on the role. For this reason I focused on the people that believed in me rather than the big guys that thought otherwise. I took part in the Local Municipality By-Election having confidence in what I believed in.

I am proud to say that I did well even though I did not win. Five percent of the voters voted for me when I only had thirty two days to prepare with a zero budget and a very small team. Just so that you get the context, I had a team of fourteen volunteers, of which only six where active in planning and campaign strategy and only two could do the actual campaign work which included door to door campaigning. Whereas those that I competed against had big budgets, some of their noticeable campaign efforts included big motorcades. I was number three beating COPE candidate. I made a statement and I don’t regret taking part. Toastmasters International taught me to speak and avoid living a life of regrets. That is why I am a Proud Toastmaster.

Sometimes it will look like you are not going to make an impact, sometimes you will look like a drop in an ocean, sometimes you will be an underdog. Know that if what you believe in is strong enough you can do it. Don’t be shy.

Do not be shy. Participate in your club meetings, take that role you fear the most and if it means standing for senior role when everyone thinks you are not ready. Don’t be shy.

And more importantly, don’t be shy to apply what you learn in Toastmasters out there.

Gaoretelwe Molebalwa