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2 Learn From Mentors

If you have never experienced a mentoring relationship, we suggest you give it a try because whether you are the mentor or the "mentee," you will learn and grow from the experience. If you want to accomplish a task, learn from others who have gone before. They can help you farther down the road, faster, just by sharing their successes and their mistakes.

David: As a longtime Toastmaster, I have enjoyed a many mentoring relationships. At least once a week someone phones me to ask questions about speaking. I answer every one, because to teach is to learn twice. I find as I explain to others, sometimes the answer becomes clearer to me. I also always caution those who seek my help: "Just because I say it's so, doesn't mean it's so." And I encourage mentees to think for themselves after having picked through the advice I've offered.

How do you find a mentor? Look for someone whose skills or experiences correspond to your needs. For example, if you need assistance in developing a great opening, seek a mentor who begins presentations with dynamic beginnings. Then ask that person if they will be willing to help. Not everyone will say yes, but most will, because most people are honored that you thought enough of them to ask for their advice.

David: I am proud of the fact that I coached Mark Brown as he prepared for the 1995 Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking. Mark was the quintessential student. He was eager to learn and a good listener, but more importantly, he was a good questioner. I watched with pride as he went from a good questioner to a good thinker. By the end of our mentoring sessions, he was a well-reasoned decision-maker and had learned to teach himself. So as he stood on the stage in 1995 holding the World Championship trophy, I was every bit as proud of him as I was when I won the title. But the story doesn't stop there. Six years later, Mark mentored Darren LaCroix as he prepared for the 2001 World Championship. When Darren stood on the stage as World Champion, I felt that same sense of pride all over again, for the student had become the teacher.


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