Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Archive for the ‘Mentoring & Coaching’ Category

Sugar man

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One of my mentors – my husband Bill

Wow! what a story. Last night, Bill and I watched “Sugar man” the story about songwriter Rodriguez who released two albums in US in the early 70’s which didn’t even make ripple on the US music front. The same albums created a cult following during the depth of apartheid in South Africa selling over 500 000 copies.

Australia was the only other country in the world showing interest in the man they said was better than Bob Dylan.

The amazing thing was he didn’t know. He was still unknown in America and working his backside off as a labourer, struggling to raising his family and living in  26 different homes during this time.  While royalties were paid to his record company, not a cent was passed on so he didn’t have a clue about the impact he was having in South Africa at the time. (and on husband Bill and a few of his mates!)

Over 25 years later he was tracked down by a South African fan, who believed him to be dead, and he discovered the impact of his music in that country. Visiting South Africa in 1998 he performed to 6 sold out concerts … and then returned to being a labourer in US.

If only someone had contacted him!

His story blew me away… and took me back to my heroes and mentors. It made me think about  many of the people who had influenced my life  that I hadn’t taken the time to actually acknowledge for the impact they had on me.

In a country like Australia where we “knock the tall poppy” and berate success, we are not good at acknowledging. Imagine how powerful it could be if we had the courage to tell people genuinely what they had done and the impact they really had on our lives.

And I don’t mean a “thanks mate” or a “you did a great job”. I mean an acknowledgement with some “punch” behind it.

In our coaching and mentoring workshops we talk about acknowledgement as being authentic – from the heart. It focuses on the “who”  – the qualities demonstrated – what it really meant for you.

One of my mentors was my mother in law – a wonderful woman who demonstrated to me the importance of pursuing your passion in your career (amongst many other things). Sadly we lost her to cancer in 2000 and I never had the opportunity to tell her of the impact she had in my life.

Real acknowledgements are extremely powerful.

We can’t all have the impact of Rodriguez – such an impact on a country – but we can acknowledge the people who have an impact on us.

I leave you with the challenge to acknowledge your heroes and informal mentors … and I look forward to hearing the impacts!

PS – I also recommend watching the Rodriguez documentary – Sugar Man. An amazing story. (Bill and I are looking forward to seeing a 70 year old Rodriguez perform during Easter at the Byron Bay Blues Festival.)

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The power of mentoring

2013-01-03 20.35.24We have all had a hero – a role model we have admired and shaped ourselves on.

One of mine was Meredith – Meredith was the chair of the SA Women’s Advisory Council – my first role outside of my local district.  I admired Meredith’s skills as a chair – she was warm, inclusive and kept us on track. Meredith was my informal mentor.

Imagine how powerful the relationship could have been if I had had the courage to ask Meredith to be my mentor – instead of watching and learning from afar I could have discussed with her what she was thinking, how she planned those meetings – and fast tracked my learning.

How many of you have had an informal mentor someone like Meredith you admired from afar?  What about a formal mentor?

What is mentoring?

“The mentor knows how to answer many great questions asked by the mentee and pass on their experience.”  The Forton Group.

The key for me in the definition is “questioning” The mentor is a guide who walks with the mentee – they have some of the  knowledge to answer the great questions however we don’t have to know everything to be a great mentor It’s more about sharing and developing of the skills of our mentee,  sharing our networks and questioning the mentee to assist them to develop their own skills and knowledge.  Creating possibility.

We have formal and informal mentors and it the formalising of the process that makes it powerful. We should encourage people to approach us to formalise the process and approach mentors ourselves. We are never too old to have a mentor, its not about age.

I will share of couple of personal mentoring examples …

1. Last year I was a volunteer mentor for APEN (Australasia-Pacific Extension Network) where I mentored a young woman for 8 months. I enjoyed working with her enormously – the benefits for me were fantastic – the sharing of her achievements and watching her grow in confidence.

“I had what I thought were a lot of professional difficulties but through mentoring my mountains became molehills and  I  learnt a variety of new skills to deal with my work. I gained work life balance which was practically non existent – my mentor taught me skills for life.”

2.   Over a year ago I approached a young woman who had transferred into South Australia in an agricultural role and offered myself as a mentor – the gremlin in my head was busy telling me “what did I have to offer” however I stuck my neck out and offered anyway – the young woman took up my offer and we continue to work together regularly.

In Ag Consulting Co we often work with young people who have chosen agriculture as a career and build mentoring into our training programs. These young people tell me regularly about the need for more people with mentoring skills in the industry

Mentoring is a skill underpinned by coaching and understanding the role of a coach greatly enhances the skills of a mentor. Training in the art of mentoring makes the relationship even more effective – the next blog will be about coaching.

It would be great to hear about some of your mentoring experiences… I look forward to some comments.

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