October 27th is global National Mentoring Day, an opportunity to consider the benefits and celebrate the positive impact of giving something back. Both myself and my fellow Director and Co-Founder at Positive About Inclusion, Lucy Malarkey are qualified Coaches and Mentors. We continue to commit to mentoring for lots of reasons but National Mentoring Day has prompted me to ask myself – why do we do this? A few reasons come to mind:
Connect – mentoring is a two-way relationship. I think I can safely say that every mentee I have worked with has benefitted from our relationship, but equally I have learnt something from every single mentee too. It is essential and healthy to connect with people who may have different views and perspectives to your own. As the Actor Alan Alda once said “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” And of course the same benefit is felt by the mentee who gets to temperature check their views and opinions with a trusted, impartial professional.
Celebrate – my mentoring style seems to focus on supporting the mentee to recognise their talents, appreciate themselves and their individuality, to celebrate their achievements and to have faith and confidence in themselves to succeed. At the beginning of the mentoring process, for some mentees that seems to be an impossibly positive starting point. But we must celebrate what and where we can. There will always be challenging times ahead, regardless of the point at which you may be at in your career, education, etc. and being able to see the positive is a skill for life.
Educate – I feel like I must say this at least once a day (perhaps Lucy has a view on that…) but every day really is a school day. A day without learning is a day wasted. And what better way to give back than to share that learning when the opportunity presents itself. Regardless of whether it’s part of a structured programme or just a friend or contact who needs some advice, mentoring is the self perpetuating act of ‘giving back’ to someone unconnected for the mentoring that you benefitted from to help you get to wherever you are. And hopefully that mentee goes on to do the same for someone else when they get the opportunity.
Support – Positive About Inclusion is proud to be a values driven social enterprise. Having the two Directors give up their time by volunteering as Mentors forms part of our commitment to deliver on our social mission as a Community Interest Company. By mentoring informally with friends, contacts and colleagues, and by taking part in structured programmes through fantastic organisations like The Girls’ Network and The 1 Hour Project we are supporting the delivery of added value from our social enterprise.
So, on National Mentoring Day take the time to consider the people who have helped and supported you throughout your education and career so far. Every single one of us can think of someone – a patient teacher, your first boss, a colleague – who gave you the time to talk through something, listened respectfully and considerately, and then shared their learning. Please consider how you could engage with mentoring. It’s so rewarding when you pay back that debt – it’s a win win situation.