There is an African Proverb that says “If you want to go fast walk alone, if you want to go far walk together”. However I say to you “if you want to go fast and far, walk with a mentor. Never walk alone.”
When I joined Toastmasters in June 2013, I was on a supersonic mission to deliver speeches. A year later I had completed Competent Communicator Level 10 (CC10). I felt a sigh of relief as I had managed to complete the speeches in record time. That galvanized me to move to the next stage with the port of call being the Advanced Communicator Bronze. I chose the Interpretative Reading that I thought I would breeze through. I underestimated the task and hurdles ahead of me. I immediately hit a rock that I couldn`t navigate round. My club (UWP Toastmasters) then didn`t have Advanced Speakers so there was no one to illuminate my path. After several attempts the evaluation reports were negative. I realized that I was ill-equipped for the Advanced Manuals. I regressed back to Competent Speeches to gain my bruised confidence. At one time I contemplated giving up so as to salvage my buttered ego.
As the Budda Guatama Shakyamuni said “when the student is ready the master appears”. The master appeared in the form of our recently installed Area Director Dimitri Grekas. He was the antidote that the doctor ordered. He agreed to hand hold me through what seemed to be a cul-de-sac. As an experienced and knowledgeable mentor he set-out the rules of engagement. We agreed to meet on Saturdays to panel beat my speeches and delivery. I incorporated the oasis of wisdom that he shared with me as I was practicing the scripts. In a short space of time I gained the confidence to deliver the speeches. The speech that I delivered at my club was top-notch and the evaluator commended me for a superb speech. I repeated the same concoction with my mentor and before the end of the season I received my accolade, ACB. I revelled for achieving such an epic milestone. My mentor encouraged me to push the frontiers by going for the Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS). I could now see further because I was standing on the shoulders of a giant, someone who had earned a Distinguished Toastmasters (DTM) Award. We plotted the path to ACS and Advanced Communicator Gold (ACG). To my utter surprise, I did the unthinkable that Toastmasters season; I completed a Triple-Crown. I couldn`t believe that I once struggled in the valley of despair and was now standing on a mountain top of triumphalism. My mentor immediately reminded me that there is another mountain to climb, High Performance Leadership (HPL). I elected to organize the Division H Club Officer Training. My mentor was in the cockpit of this programme in the Guidance Committee . We executed one of the top club officers training that received an award. This path led me to complete the coveted biggest achievement DTM Award late last year. I reached the pinnacle, the summit and zenith of the Toastmasters Program. What a magical achievement!
My mentor has been the wind beneath my wings, which propelled me to soar high. He was the torch bearer illuminating my route to DTM. This journey taught me never to walk alone but tap into the calabash of mentorship. Toastmasters International offers this mentorship programme yet it remains one of the underutilized tools. I have used the power of mentorship to scale heights in Toastmasters. My achievements are wholly attributed to vibrant mentorship. Those that tap into this programme achieve more in a short space of time. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, tap into the experience of a mentor who has walked the same path. The way to expand our lives is to model the lives of those people who are already succeeding. Mentoring reduces the learning period, increases effectiveness and gives you experienced shoulders to stand and build on. By using a mentor you get new perspectives.
Who is your mentor? Are you fully utilizing this programme? Remember never walk alone, walk with a mentor.
By Enias Chingwe