I have been a Toastmaster now for close to 4 years and there is not a day that goes by where I don’t look at my life and thank the Toastmasters program for what I have.
In those four years I’ve seen members join, members leave, and I have committed myself to share the knowledge and joy that comes with being a Toastmaster.
I had always known about Toastmasters, but knowing what Toastmasters is, experiencing the program and what you can achieve because of that program is drastically different.
I didn’t join Toastmasters because I wanted to change myself, or become a better leader, or be a better speaker and communicator. I simply wanted to do something fun and stimulating every so often that wasn’t work related. Yet, somehow, despite not considering myself a leader, I became one. I started small as just a non-voting sub-committee member, then took over the role of VPPR, became President, VPE and now I proudly serve as an Area Director. I am a leader, and I was made.
Despite me thinking that I don’t need to be a better communicator, I learnt more than I thought possible. I managed to enthrall, engage, empower my audience with my words simply because of honest relevant, relatable and encouraging evaluations that lifted me up but never broke me down. I kept trying new things and found endless joy in crafting and delivering presentations.
Despite being comfortable in my own social circle I met new people from different outlooks of life, different religious beliefs, different cultural backgrounds and I became friends with all of them.
I realized that instead of a competitive edge, what was needed more for success was a cooperative edge. That spirit of working together towards a goal rather than fighting over things that didn’t matter added more value to me and those I worked with.
Despite only wanting to have a fun place to do things, I learnt, I continue to grow and I still have fun. A Toastmasters club is not a person, it’s not a place, it’s the spirit of people that you surround yourself with and it’s a willingness to step outside of yourself, an opportunity to shed your chrysalis and fly.
I have had the privilege of expanding minds and changing lives and today I can proudly say that I am a leader, and I was made.
Brandt Van Der Westhuizen
Area Director D4