*** AM I ENOUGH? ***
Am I enough? Was the first question that came to mind when Emanuela Fato was asked to be a mentor. She was sure not to vocalise this doubt but it came to shape how she would approach the role that she had seen could be so powerful.
Emanuela is a career coach, works for a non-profit, lectures at the university when she is not the president of her Toastmasters club in Turin, Italy. So, it’s fair to say that guidance and mentoring is not far from her daily life, yet she had doubts when first taking on a mentee. She had been with toastmasters for over 2 years and questioned if she was ready.
She began her Toastmasters journey in America where she spent a year “sitting in the corner” and it wasn’t until she returned to Italy that she took her first mentor, “He was very different to me but I knew he had strengths that I needed.” He was the president of the club that she was attending and while she describes herself as high-energy, she chose someone who could give her some structure to direct her energy.
When she was approached to be a mentor herself, she was unsure but soon realised that they chose her not because they didn’t have a choice but because they did. They were sure that they needed something and they knew that Emanuela was the right person, even if she didn’t. “I love growth and I had seen the power of mentoring with my experiences.” She put those two drivers together to be the best she could be.
One of the most crucial choices was not to give up being a mentee, she continued to get support from her mentors. She describes the mentoring process as being a circle, circulating energy, “From both my mentor and my mentees I got precious insights about myself, as feedback really makes the difference. I can express different but complementary sides of myself as I can express doubts and weaknesses with my mentor and I can challenge myself being supportive and helpful with my mentees. This is why I consider it a circle.” She pointed out that her mentor is from outside her club which makes the relationship with her mentees easier.
Emanuela has set up a Whatsapp group with her 4 mentees, she calls these groups ‘Success Teams’, where one mentor works with multiple mentees, giving them regular voice messages to help them along their way and schedules separate time each week for a short one-to-one with each. “Everyone has different time needs, maybe five minutes a week, maybe an hour a month and this needs to be discussed at the beginning of the mentoring relationship.” She also stressed that this time needs to be on your schedule, “if it isn’t on your schedule, it doesn’t exist.”
I asked her what she would do differently if she had the chance to go back and start again, “I wouldn’t have lost that first year!” she also realised that each mentee needs to be treated holistically. People are not just who they are at Toastmasters and should be treated 360 degrees, sometimes it is something outside the club that is holding them back and you need to understand that. A mentor needs to be humble, “You are not a mentor because you know everything! You know something and that is enough.”
Mentoring is one of the most important things that Toastmasters offers and it should have much more emphasis in all clubs. I asked Emanuela if it should be assigned a dedicated officer role in every club. “It is part of the VPE’s role but VPEs have so much to do that it should have someone, maybe an assistant to the VPE so that they are coordinated.” Toastmasters is the perfect environment for mentoring, it attracts people from all walks of life and professions. She recognised that her professional mentors had given her so much in her professional career as she hopes to give to the people who she coaches and teaches. It helps you to set goals and have clear steps to get there. Whether it be in leadership or public speaking, having someone to support you is powerful and can change the direction of your life.
I love growth and I had seen the power of mentoring with my experiences.
From both my mentor and my mentees I got precious insights about myself.
Toastmasters is the perfect environment for mentoring, it attracts people from all walks of life and professions.
Everyone has different time needs, maybe five minutes a week, maybe an hour a month. I have a WhatsApp group called SUCCESS GROUP and I send regular voice messages.
Thank you, Emanuela, for sharing your insights into Mentoring with us. David O’Regan, VPPR Toastmasters Thessaloniki