Mentor Moments – Formal and Informal Mentorship

I joined Toastmasters International in May 2014. I really joined it to give it a try. It was after hearing David Preece talking about it at our Group IT Transformation Committee at Standard Bank. I did not know what to expect and had no wild imaginations.

I attended my first meeting as a guest in March 2014. David Preece orientated me and became my mentor. On my second meeting, April 2018, I delivered my Competent Communicator 1 and on my third meeting I delivered my second assignment and was a member.

I have seen people joining Toastmasters and taking long before they can be active. In my case, because of great mentorship, I hit the ground running.

Each time I delivered a speech in my club it was the fourth time I delivered it. David Preece had encouraged me to rehearse alone, rehearse with  him and get feedback, rehearse alone after integrating his suggestions and then, only then, can I deliver it in my club.

The direct benefits of mentorship as I experienced first hand were to be assured that I was on the right track, to be guided along the way and encourage to stretch myself.

On our fifth mentorship meeting, David Preece immediately suggested that I consider taking on leadership role. He made me aware that our club had no Vice President of Public Relations (VPPR) and that he was willing to mentor me on the role as he had served on it before and I followed on his suggestion.

As far as talking was concerned, David Preece decided that it was time I let him mentor other members after delivering my fourth assignment. It took me four months to deliver four assignments and four months to deliver my fifth assignment.

I learnt from this experience that you can arrive at your destination alone, however alone you will arrive faster, contrary to the popular saying that suggests that to move fast move alone. I moved the slower when I moved alone.

I decided to have what I termed virtual mentors. People that I said were my mentors though we had no formal program. I found a way to do what I did with David Preece with them. I will share my goals with them and in that way had some kind of accountability partners. Yes, partners, not partner. And I was back on track.

In July 2015 I became our club’s President. I made sure that I will have mentors, even if it meant one consultation per mentor because some were busy. People I consulted with from time to time were Karen Levy-Strauss, David Preece, Justin Prozesky, Nomusa Hlatswayo and Thendo Mahlangu. Second half of my term I came across Njabulo Thela, Thabo Malefane, Lazola Bella and Thandwefika Tshabalala, and they became my virtual mentors as well during my term as Club President.

Before I joined Toastmasters I had no idea what mentor meant, and immediately after experiencing the benefits of having a mentor I got hooked to having a mentor.

It is my opinion as informed by my experience that experienced mentors have the ability to impact you positively through their mentorship and yes they have the power to fast track your career.

Behind the scenes my mentors had discussions and I was discussed as a potential candidate to become Division Director; the role I still believe I was not ready for and only considered it because my mentors thought I was fit for it.

If you are learning in this organization and you do not have a mentor, here is my challenge to you. Get just three mentors for six months and send me a thank you email afterwards.

Yes, I served as Division Director with the help of fantastic mentors: Thabo Malefane, David Preece, Beth Thomas and Nomusa Hlatshwayo. Those were my actual mentors, and I had many virtual mentors.

In leadership, to move have mentors. Not one, not two, at least three.

Gaoretelelwe Molebalwa