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National Mentoring Day
There is a reason why mentoring is such a common trope in film and fiction; from Harry Potter (let’s not debate Dumbledore’s mentoring skills) and Star Wars, to King Richard and Good Will Hunting, mentors play a powerful role in stories of success.
You only have to listen to any Oscar acceptance speech, Nobel prize winner or maiden speech in the Houses of Parliament and you will hear stories of the importance of mentors in the real world. In the success of individuals, one common thread is that one person who believed in them, helped them, supported them and brought out the best in them.
But you don’t have to be aiming for the dizzying heights of fame, scientific breakthroughs or election to parliament to benefit from a good mentoring relationship. Many of us have them without looking; parents, friends, religious leaders, teachers, and bosses can all contribute to your life and step into the role of mentor. Not forgetting reverse mentoring, where those younger or less experienced than you teach you valuable lessons; one of the many reasons I volunteer with young people!
Mentors are not super-humans, super heroes or astounding paragons of virtue and good, but ordinary people, including you and me. We might even be someone’s mentor without them knowing, or without us knowing! Many a teacher, youth worker, boss or even relative is credited with the mentorship of people they didn’t realise they touched that deeply. Others of us willingly go into that relationship, go out looking for that relationship, knowing the good we will gain and what we can give to the next generation, those coming behind us. We want to point the way, show the mistakes we struggled through and help others to avoid the pitfalls that stopped us in our tracks. Sometimes it is where we have blazed trails and want to pull others behind us. And many people recognise that a mentor can help them, not as a magic pill that overnight improves their self confidence and career, but as a supporter, a critical friend and a champion.
So why is it so powerful? What is it about a mentor that can propel someone to greatness, or support them from collapsing when things get tough? Well, lots of research on youth, academic and workplace mentoring all come to similar conclusions; mentoring helps by supporting development in a number of ways; in attitude, in confidence, career aspiration and development, and in many of the business soft skills, like teamwork, reflection and change management. The belief of one person to support the positive inner voice of the mentee can propel them forwards.
But why should you mentor someone? Besides all the reasons I listed above, bringing those behind us, showing them the footholds and the pitfalls, mentoring can have a profound impact on the mentor as well. Volunteering on its own can improve the physical and mental health of a person, as well as improving their skills, confidence and sense of spirituality. Volunteering is giving back, paying forward and helping others, which we know mentally benefits us, and feeds that area of need in our lives. Mentoring can also support the mentor to improve skills like listening, reasoning and management, as well as keeping the mentor grounded in the feelings and experiences of those further down the ladder, and those closer to the customer they serve, giving the mentor a better understanding of their needs and the sector. And that is before we look at improving networks for the mentor as well!
If you are interested in mentoring with Housing Diversity Network, feel free to contact me on email@example.com and we can meet to talk about it in more detail.
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