Last Sunday I lit the first candle on the advent wreath, like every year. Advent time belongs to my favourite time of the year. I love the cosiness with friends and families gathered together, I love the sparkling lights in the Christmas markets, I love the sweet smell of mulled wine and lebkuchen in the air. But wait, instead of festive atmosphere, I smell fear, uncertainty and disinfectant the air. Christmas is only 4 weeks away, the most colourful and splendid time of the year is shadowed by Corona lockdown. When I feel sad and helpless, I very often think of my Grandpa. I grew up by my grandparents in Shanghai during the culture revolution. My Grandpa used to have his own business before the communist took over the government. During Mao´s culture revolution, he became, victim of the movement called “purging remnant of capitalist”. All his property was confiscated. The revolutionary groups quartered the complete ground floor of my grandparent´s house. Whenever I was sad and frightened with the rude behaviour of these strangers in our house, my grandpa would pull me aside and told me gently, “everything will be fine again my child, all you need is patience”. Mao´s culture revolution lasted 10 years, in the end, my whole family survived the nightmare. Six years ago, my grandpa died at the age of 101. His patience, his calmness especially in difficult times helped him to succeed numerous tough situations. For me he is the true winner in life. Are you a patient person? If not, I´m afraid you have a learn process ahead of you and I hope, it won´t be that painful as the one that I had. It was a wonderful day in August when I was on my way back home with MTB. I was only about 6 km away from my home, when a car from driving school appeared in front of me, stop and go, stop and go. Following this car was a test of my patience. After another kilometre, I finally ran out of patience. To be able to overtake the car, the only possibility was to jump onto the pavement. It shouldn´t be an issue for a skilled MTBiker like me. And I jumped so high! The landing of my front wheel was soft and smooth, but my back wheel disagreed to follow. Suddenly I lost my balance and even worse, I was not so quick to free my feet out of the clipless pedal. Bang! I hit hard with my left side against the cement ground. A bloody elbow, a rib fracture and a rotator cuff tear in the shoulder, all that happened within seconds, as a result of an impatient moment. There are many uncomfortable situations in life that you can not change. Like being stuck in a traffic jam or standing in a long queue in super market, or driving behind a car of driving school. 2020 is a special year that demands a lot of patience from us. It´s not only the covid-19 virus that threatens us, but the significant side effects that turned our normal life upside down. We are forced to give up a lot of lovely things that we used to do, keep distance to our dearest ones. It´s hard for me not able to visit my dad the whole year. But the good news is, the vaccine is coming soon and we can already
Every first and third (and sometimes fifth) Wednesday of the month you will find a select group of internationals gathered in one Zoom call. They talk a lot, it seems to be their purpose, they clap a lot, it seems to be their engine, and they laugh a lot, it seems as if… they’re having fun!
The secret is no secret really: these are people with one common goal, with a hobby that unites them. Even in times of quarantine and pandemics, they persevere in the pursuit of a higher end! They want to improve their communication and leadership skills, they want to practice speaking in front of an audience, they want to become better leaders. In short, these are Toastmasters – Munich Prostmasters!
Last Wednesday they met again and from the start it was clear, not only do they have a common goal, they also have a plan on how to get there. The meeting was extremely structured with a “Toastmaster of the Meeting” – in this case Craig – moderating the show, while delegating certain parts to other moderators like the Table Topics Master (Rizh) and the General Evaluator (Işil). The word of the evening was “multifaceted”, presented by Grammarian Mikhail. Interestingly enough he didn’t just encourage everyone to use this word, he also explained its etymology to help the audience understand even better what the word means and how they can use it. Did you know that the word facet – as in multi-faceted – refers to the sides of a precious stone (e.g. a diamond)? The more facets it has, the more valuable and hence: multi-faceted expresses value. And boy, did we have a multifaceted meeting, chock full of multifaceted speakers and multifaceted topics!
After three wonderful table topic speakers (Fabio, Darya, and Benjamin) we continued with two speeches – and here, another theme became apparent: the naming game! Charles explained to us how important and intricate the naming of children is in his home country Ghana. Our name makes us stand out and thus Charles’ Ghanaian name is Kweku Abeiku – now we all know that he was born on a Wednesday as Kweku means male child born on Wednesday. Abeiku is a further specification because of course, many male children are born on Wednesdays.
Oscar followed with a lesson on trust and Tinder. His best piece of advice is to meet in a bookstore for your first date: if she doesn’t show up, you have something to do AND it makes you look intelligent. His second piece of advice is to stay in the bookstore so you’re not abducted into a bunker-like dangerous and expensive club. Wise words indeed for dating in the 21st century!
With that we seamlessly went into the most important part of any Toastmasters meeting: the evaluations! General Evaluator Işil guided her team very efficiently through the subjective and objective evaluations. Both Ron and Ranjith who evaluated the speakers did so in a clear, analytical, and respectful manner – they gave Charles and Oscar something to think about as well as great tips for their next speeches which is precisely the point of course. This led us to the objective evaluations, kicked off by Christopher Magyar as the Ah-counter. Or should we say: Atilla the UHM? Christopher continued the naming game explaining how his last name means “Hungarian” which led him to the first Hungarians, the Huns – and the most fierce of them all was of course Atilla the Hun – hence, our Ah-counter was really Atilla the Uhm!
Our grammarian Mikhail was very pleased to report that the word of the day multi-faceted had been used quite often as well as that the level of English throughout the evening had been very satisfactory. He noticed a few expressions that could be improved, but mostly he discovered quite a few pearls of excellent English. Our poor Time-keeper Tulia had a rough night trying to keep us all on time and on track. In spite of the fact that she was using the best timer cards I’ve ever seen (with smiley faces!) some speakers didn’t seem to want to stop at red… Don’t do this in traffic! All in all it was a great evening and we’re all looking forward to the next meeting.
The naming game continues here with a riddle: do you know why Munich Prostmasters are called PROSTmasters? Send you answers in before the next meeting on the 21st of October where we will reveal the answer! As Julia said in Shakespeare’s Romeo: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Would Prostmasters by any other name still feel as fun, work as wonderful, and laugh as loudly?
When you were a teenager, what bothered you the most? I bet, the grown-ups! They were always nagging us: Have you clean your room? have you done you homework? What do you want to be when you grow up? For this last one, I always had a chicky answer: I want to be happy! Little did I know that it will take me twenty long years to figure out what ‚happy‘ means. Sure, being happy at work, having enough money in a bank accout or staying healthy is very important! But for me that essential connection to people I really like is what makes me truly happy. There is a theory that we are the average of the five people we choose to associate with the most. We need to choose wisely, those five people influence us more than we know. To be happy in life, the five key people we need to find and stick to, are a friend, a peer, a mentor, a coach, what everybody needs – a cheerleader. Since I’ve heard about this theory, I started scrutinizing closely my relationships to identify my own circle of five.
I knew immediately who my cheerleaderwas – definitelly my husband Zoran. He cheeres me and holds me up throught the hardsest phases of my life, or of my day. This may lie in his cultural identity: the Croats know how to celebrate life, enjoy the wine and laugh and sing the songs, until the neigbours start shaking their heads in disbelieve. Over the years, as I am listening to his singing, and cheering, I’m thinking why not to enjoy life fearlessly, it is too short anyway.
We all need a friend. Don’t you think? Someone who accepts us for what we are. Warts and all. I’m so lucky I have Anja. She laughs with me when I laugh, cries when I cry. I know she is happy when I succeed, and as sad as I am when things are not working our for me. I hope you have such a friend too.
And we all need a peer. If you like me work for a big corporation, you know: the crowdier, the lonlier. We need a peer with whome we can share, be honest, have fun and who can help us keep the head in the game. The day Barbora joined my team, I felt fortunate. We’ve come up together, there is nothing like a team spirit and there is no challenge we cannot face.
My 3rd speech at Toastmasters was titled: ‚To see Paris and Die‘. In my country we say: you are not supposed to depart this life, until you visit Paris, allegedly the most beautiful city in the world. I almost did die, but while in Paris: freezing to death in a cheap hostel. After I gave the speech in the club, my mentor Martin handed me a bottle of champane, baguetee and soft cheese – the things I did not come accross while in Paris. Martin‘s refined taste for french cousine, and english language, always inspire me to work hard on my speeches. A good mentor will point you in the right direction. And you know what? Everytime I listent to him and went in that direction, I got out a happier person.
Sometimes when we coach people, and we see no result, we give up on them. My school sports coach –Tolik the Torture, used to yell at me: run, Darya, run, as I was dragging myself lazilly behind the rest of the class. Suddenly, so my years later, his words caught up with me. I am a runner these days. A true coach will kick you out of a comfort zone, and into a good shape, sooner or rather later.
For me the true happiness doesn’t come from wealth, success or even working hard. It comes from relationships I have with the peole I like. Do you have your cirle of five? Maybe they are your family, friends, Instagram followers, or simply people you can be vulnerable with, listen and share what is close to our heart. These relationships are the essence of our life and the happiness we all need.
Looking for the work that we love, hiking the mountains of Bavaria, eating chocolates, marrying the man we love, coming to the Prostmasters meeting to hear Craigs’s muah, WUNDEBA
These might all make us happy, but what creates the happiness that lasts?
The answer, my friends, is being of service, helping others.
How can we help others?
We give what we have. We give money. We give knowledge. We give a ffff
If we are fisherman. We give our fellow man fish for help.
That would feed them for a day.
What would be a better help?
Teach them how to fish.
The person is a vegetarian! They don’t eat fish! (Unrelated info: The vegetarians that eat fish call themselves pescaterian)
But they weren’t even hungry.
They came to us to ask where is the closest bathroom! We didn’t even listen. We didn’t even ask. We didn’t even see. They asked us Can you help and we gave them the fish!
Is this absurd?
Well my friends this is happening all the time!
We are giving our fish to people who don’t need it, who don’t want it.
We give our ideas and suggestions without checking in if that is needed, without checking if will actually serve the person we want to help.
What is an alternative?
What is a better way to be of help?
It is coaching my friends.
Do you know what coaching is? It is not Tony Robbinsing! being on stage making talks, it is not shouting what to do from the sidelines!
Coaching is – according to the definition of International Coach Federation – partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential.
Coach is a partner and her job is to co-create the process so that the person getting coaching will be inspired and will maximise their potential.
International Coach Federation defines the behaviours that a coach displays to be the best partner which they call as Core Coaching Competencies. There are 8 of those but 2 will already bring you forward if you start implementing in your life.
Number 6 Listens Actively
When you listen you can listen with the intention of understanding what they want to communicate and also check back by if what you understand is true. Listen not only words, but also the body language and the emotions to have a deeper understanding.
Number 7 The coach Evokes Awareness
The people that come to you for help are capable to find their own solutions that will work for their own preferences that only they know if they can think thoroughly and differently.
I don’t know about you but my mind can speak a ton. And I find myself bringing the old ways of thinking (and a lot of complaining). You can help me think through by asking me questions, supporting me to continue to think more and in different ways. “What is on your mind?”, “What is the real challenge here for you?”, “What do you want?”, “What have you already thought of?” . “What else can you do?” What else? What else? What else?
You can help a person gain awareness of not only new solutions but their own resourcefulness.
And only – only if they ask your help – you can ask them how they want you to help.
Next time when you want to help someone hold your fish – your suggestions until it is actively asked of you. First, listen actively and ask questions to help them think deeply.
With that, you will be helping others to find solutions that work for them, which will make them happy, which will in turn make you happy.
An exciting term for our club is coming to an end. Many of you would have expected that by ending this term we could just smoothly progress into a new one. This would have been an easy solution. However, Postmasters would not be Prostmasters and your incredible officers team would not be an incredible officers team if it had not prepared something extraordinary and truly exciting. At first we just thought of small improvements that could be done to our club. But we did not rest until we totally reinvented everything. After all the turmoil and hardship of this year we truly felt that accepting the status quo was not an option. And so we created something completely fabulous and innovative. For the first time in the history of Prostmasters we do now present a list of incredible new attributes attached to our club’s name; a list, that is so long and feature-rich that like no list created before:
I know it because my life was changed many times by people like you.
These people saw me, told me and changed me.
“Who am I?” I had never needed to ask this question to myself until the day I graduated from university. Until that day, I followed a path that was set for me. I studied, I fulfilled all the requirements for the next step, and the next step, and the next. Until that day, when there were no longer any directions. Now I needed to make choices. What would my work be? What would make me happy? Who was I?
I got my first job before I could answer these questions. It was awful. I couldn’t breathe. I fell into a depression. The next time, I made a better choice. Third time was an even better one, but soon that also lost its meaning. What else could I do? What would work for me? What was I really good at? I couldn’t come up with anything else than what I had done so far. What I had done so far only brought me that far…
So I asked my friends. They told me I always had high energy. I always created a friendly atmosphere. People enjoyed listening to me. I would approach people easily. They could picture me working in HR, as a lecturer in a university or a customer service representative.
What they told me brought up an old memory. Years ago I had worked with a coach and during one of our coaching sessions I had said to myself “You know what, I could do this and I could do this really well.” Somehow I had forgotten that. The acknowledgement of my strengths by my friends rekindled this fire. I put myself on the path of coaching. I got trained as a coach, achieved my coaching credentials and started my coaching business.
They saw me, they told me, and they changed me.
Years later I was chatting with Mihaela, who I had recently met through our joint connections and got very close quickly, when she told me every time she was talking with me she felt inspired. The questions I asked, my observations and thoughts energized her. “You should create a podcast” she said. “What?” I responded. How could I do that? I had no idea how to put together a podcast and what would I talk about? I doubted I could do it but she put the seed in my head. In the following weeks, through synchronicity or maybe selective perception, I got an email from Seth Godin about the newest workshop he was running about podcasting. I joined the course and launched my podcast before the workshop was over.
I owe my podcast to the acknowledgement of my strengths by my friend Mihaela.
She saw me, she told me, and she changed me.
After changing my career direction to coaching I had also started offering training. I was able to deliver my message and moderate the discussions but it was difficult to stand on stage and speak. I decided to take action and joined Toastmasters. I practiced speaking often, relaxed into my excitement on stage and started enjoying it. But the biggest gifts I got from Toastmasters were not about developing my speaking skills, they were about understanding who I was.
My first gift came after one of my speeches when my dedicated evaluator Darya added to her feedback an acknowledgement: “I love listening to you. You have such a beautiful voice.” What a surprise was that for me! My earliest memory about my voice was my father telling me I sounded funny. The recordings on tape confirmed that. I always talked with this “knowledge” that I had a funny voice, I was never outspoken, never loud. After Darya’s acknowledgement a new world opened to me. I started enjoying my voice. I got more confident speaking on my podcast and with others in conversations and voiced my thoughts in meetings.
I received the second gift after another speech I gave. Stefan, a fellow Toastmaster told me I had lots of different face expressions when I was telling a sad story but only one expression when I was talking about something happy. That had never occurred to me! There was no way I could see this in myself. But after reflection, I understood that it was true. I actually valued sadness more and therefore had varieties of face expressions for it whereas happiness was a fast, simple, quick thing, a passage between sad stories. That hit me! I did not want my life to be sadness-dominated. I started intentionally noticing the happy moments, creating more of these moments and worked on lightening up quickly when something disappointing or difficult happened. I picked up meditating and my life changed completely.
Darya acknowledged my strength, Stefan mirrored me back my expressions.
They saw me, they told me, and they changed me.
The stories I told you were stories of how some people changed my life.
I knew only a portion of who I was and sometimes I knew it wrong! They enriched my view with what they saw in me. They helped me see a stronger version of myself, which enabled me to make big changes in my life.
You have this enormous power of changing people’s lives! All you need is to really see the people you are with and tell them. Tell them what skills you see in them that touch you, that inspire you, that make a difference. Acknowledge them. Tell it to your team members, your managers, your peers, your friends, and your family members. See them and tell them. You will change them.
About Isil Uysal Calvelli, ACC
Speaker, Coach, ACC
Isil Uysal Calvelli helps people align who they are with what they do, so they can be fully themselves and make their unique contributions in this world. She does that through coaching, speaking and writing. She is the host of Unique Careers, Unique Lives Podcast and co-founder of BeCoach Academy. She holds an ACC (Associate Certified Coach) credential from the International Coach Federation.
What brought you to Toastmasters? To improve my communication skills, my current skills were not enough to go where I want to be. You can have all the knowledge there is, but it’s nothing without the actual experience to back it up. I don´t know a better place than Toastmasters to try things out, getting feedback and all of it in a light demeanor.
What keeps you in Toastmasters? Vibe, personal stories, getting even better.
What would you like to do as an officer for the club this year? Just keep it going, clean and organized. Let guests feel welcomed when we go back to offline.
What brought you to Toastmasters? Job interview after I graduated from University. During the assessment center one of the recruiters mentioned Toastmasters and I got very curious about it. I have been with Toastmasters since that very year – majority of the time with Munich Prostmasters, but also with ReDensburger Toastmasters Club while I lived in Regensburg, and even during my assignment in USA I have been visiting Toastmasters regularly!
What keeps you in Toastmasters? I am constantly looking for new challenges and opportunities of further growth and development and Toastmasters were able to provide these opportunities at any time. I am passionate about public speaking and impact that speaker creates on people – inspire, motivate and empower. Professionally part of my job is to facilitate trainings, present at various conferences in Europe, North America and Asia and speak in front of executives – all of it has benefitted from Toastmasters training.
What would you like to do as an officer for the club this year? I am a president of one of the best Toastmasters club worldwide – which I am exceptionally proud of! Together with my leadership team I will be working on sustaining the mission of our club and celebrating the power of our inspiring, inclusive and supportive community!