It began for me, about a year ago. The PQD for District 73 sent out an invitation to Toastmasters who wanted to be Pathways Guides for clubs in areas close to them. Now, my location, spans two Districts – 70 on the NSW side of the border and 73 on the Victorian side of the Murray River. Clubs in Areas Monaro 34 and Northern 29 were all familiar to me – I had been an Area Director in both – and I felt sure that I could continue to support them all.
Eight to Ten clubs were to be supported for recognition as a Guide over a six month period – from September 2017 to February 2018, and rollout for us in Region 12 was scheduled for December 5.
Brick Wall 1: 18 Tasks
As a Pathways Guide I was required to jump over a number of hurdles in gaining completion of my online learning modules. This was a strange an unfamiliar process and one that did not sit right with me from the start; I knew that reading a plethora of 18 online resources did not constitute effective training for me. Where was the opportunity to practice meaningfully before launching into my role as a Guide? Everything was lock step – that is – each component in the learning modules needed to be completed in sequence.
I persevered, knowing that this was my path to becoming a Guide and achieving another award towards my third DTM.
Brick Wall 2: No Entry
I felt like I was leading in the dark for those early months – without yet having access to Base Camp before rollout I relied on my colleagues who had experience already. There were a few of my international Toastmaster friends who had taken the plunge and joined clubs (in districts where rollout had commenced) as virtual members. They were my targetted support team – I could go to them and ask for help.
Julie Kertesz in District 91 in the UK was one of the first to ‘showcase’ her Path Projects in Base Camp. A snapshot that gave me the insight I needed to feel confident in my support for others. Thanks Julie.
Break Through 1: One Path Complete
Once rollout commenced, I was poised and ready to select my Path. I had done my homework and determined what was the best Path to start with. I chose Effective Coaching, even though the Base Camp system had suggested Strategic Relationships. I put that one aside to do next.
I thought that Effective Coaching projects best suited my planned goals and projects for the first half of 2018. It felt really great as I completed each project and proceeded to the next in Base Camp. Each new project opened up more possibilities for me to grow.
Completion of my first level was cause for a celebration and I was happy to download my first Level Completion Certificate.As each level was completed I was learning new skills and expanding my leadership horizons – the experience of those first six months was exhilarating. It felt like I was on the top of the mountain looking back on the pathway I had successfully traveled.
Brick Wall 3: Guiding Others
Nine months had passed since I first embarked on my Pathways journey! I had written about my experiences in my blog posts – each of the initial posts was designed to complete my first elective: Write a Compelling Blog. I used a story structure to tell of my adventures, just like the hero in the Hero’s Journey.
My story was told in 12 chapters and they seemed to write themselves as I contemplated what it felt like in enthusing others about Pathways. This was a tough part of the journey as it was TOO EARLY for many Toastmasters in Region 12 to give much thought to their Pathways. Summer holidays and the start of a new season of meetings took precedence over anything in Pathways.
My High Performance Level project was to build and steer a team of Online Pathways Guides in providing support for club executives from over 160 undistricted clubs across the world. Wow – that was the most stunning achievement for me – and a real bonus to work alongside many skilled Toastmasters from many Districts. On completion of my first path, Effective Coaching, I posted my thoughts on reflection in Follow the Yellow Brick Road post.
Break Through 2: Support for Base Camp Managers
The next part of the journey for me was closer to home as we determined the needs of clubs in our District 73 – especially after the election of new club executives – and in particular how to support the Base Camp Managers.
At the same time leaders in District 70 had begun to build a D70 Team Pathways and I had been invited to participate. This gave me the inspiration to begin D73 Team Pathways. By leading this team as Pathways Coordinator, I could fulfil another required project for my second Path, Strategic Relationships. Team Building was easy as the process was endorsed by the District leaders, and a team of six began to meet and discuss the different ways we could support new Pathways champions across the states of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
Simultaneously, the Pathways Discussion Forum was launched – managed by Michelle Alba-Lim from District 7 – supported by skilled Pathways champions from around the world. This forum opened up a whole new community of collaborative and cooperative learning opportunities. New learning and new activities (using the latest Facebook tools of Mentorship) has added value to what can be done in supporting large numbers of Toastmasters across the globe.
The journey does not end here! My third Path, Visionary Communication, is taking me to new heights in inspiring and facilitating my land-based clubs. For them I am seeking new ways of building membership (virtual attendance) and new ways of conducting executive committee meetings (online meetings).
The Region 12 Base Camp Managers community in Facebook has begun to provide much needed assistance for BCMs who are new to their roles and the tasks required of them in Base Camp. This community has potential for growth and influence, and will be a feature of the responsibilities of the D69, D70 and D73 Team Pathways.