I strongly believe with all that is in me that without Toastmasters International I would be a very depressed individual with no direction in life.
My first encounter with the organisation was in November 2014. I honoured an invite to the Gaborone Toastmasters club by some friends and when I got there something weird happened. I am generally a shy person and often times I feel out of place, but at that meeting I felt at home. The energy was good, people were friendly and within me everything felt right so I decided that this was a good organisation. I made a decision and paid membership dues on my third visit and I never looked back. Ok I’m lying, I did look back, a couple of times and whenever I did that I smiled and almost teared up looking at how much growth Toastmasters has given me.
I started giving speeches at the club a month after I joined and I had a lot of mistakes when I spoke. I was nervous, never knew what to do with my hands when I delivered a speech so they were just all over the place and my mouth would dry up and then I would make noticeable sounds trying to wet my tongue to continue speaking. Speeches were a nightmare, but Toastmasters being a supportive environment that it is people always congratulated me and motivated me to go on so I pushed forward.
Leadership opportunities came, as a shy person that I was, I hesitated at first but some members encouraged me and I started trying out the roles. I learnt to lead even though I was scared and didn’t know what I am doing. I worked with people what helped me realise that I have great potential hiding behind my self-doubts and insecurities. It was an amazing discovery and that made me want to try more roles, challenge myself and push my limits. I moved from someone who doesn’t easily network with people to being treasurer and then president of the biggest and oldest club in Botswana. Can you believe it? I didn’t! I doubted myself at first but I ended up being pushed by my role to develop myself into a better leader that will serve the members well.
My journey with Toastmasters has been a great one filled with challenges and learning opportunities that have made me a more confident person. I believe in myself now and I am always yearning for another challenge or opportunity to learn, serve and grow into a greater leader who is also an effective communicator. I never imagined I would be this person that I am right now. I am more alive and I have a clear direction in life because of what Toastmasters has for or to me. I always say this, you don’t have to believe me, jump in and experience it for yourself. After all, learning by doing is the best way to learn anything thus far.
Toastmasters is Where Leaders Are Made, and where leaders are made you will see a lot of people making history. Join the network and be one of those people making history. If I can do it then everybody can.
Baleseng Bobo Thobane ACG, ALB
(Club Emissary Lead 2018/2019 – District 74)