Fraser Coast Chronicle - - WEEKEND - MIND YOU WORDS: ROWENA HARDY Rowena Hardy is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor and coach at mind­

Ire­cently com­pleted a project with a group of fe­male lead­ers in a lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion, which was aimed at help­ing them to build their con­fi­dence in the work­place. Af­ter an ini­tial group ses­sion in Fe­bru­ary, each was in­vited to se­lect a men­tor from a pool of vol­un­tary men­tors and al­lo­cated one to work with over the next eight months.

By way of a mea­sure of the im­prove­ment in con­fi­dence over that time, the first ses­sion in­cluded each par­tic­i­pant de­liv­er­ing a one-minute, im­promptu pre­sen­ta­tion rel­e­vant to the top­ics we were cov­er­ing.

Then at the fol­low-up work­shop last month, each of them was asked to present for up to 15 min­utes cov­er­ing what they got from their in­ter­ac­tion with their men­tor and they were al­lowed to pre­pare in ad­vance.

I was both de­lighted and im­pressed with how far each of them had come in terms of their con­fi­dence and, even though I could tell this ex­er­cise was still very dif­fi­cult for some of them and out­side their com­fort zones, they all got through re­ally well.

It was not only the re­mark­able im­prove­ment in their con­fi­dence in a rel­a­tively short time that I wit­nessed but also how much they val­ued the ex­pe­ri­ence over­all and their in­ter­ac­tion with their cho­sen men­tor.

But what is men­tor­ing ex­actly?

There are prob­a­bly a few def­i­ni­tions out there but a sim­ple one is “an ex­pe­ri­enced and trusted ad­vi­sor”.

I take that to be some­one who of­fers their skills, ex­pe­ri­ence and unique wis­dom to an­other to sup­port their learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment.

It could be some­one in the same or sim­i­lar field who has the at­tributes that you as­pire to have or is in a role that you would like to be in at some point.

It may be in­for­mal or for­mal, a sim­ple con­ver­sa­tion or se­ries of con­ver­sa­tions that guides you along your de­vel­op­ment and dif­fer­ent peo­ple along the way.

Some­one who in­spires you to do things dif­fer­ently, en­cour­ages you to keep de­vel­op­ing and of­fers tips and tools to sup­port that.

Know­ing how valu­able this part of the pro­gram was for the par­tic­i­pants and hav­ing had var­i­ous men­tors of my own, I would love to see men­tor­ing em­bed­ded in the wider com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly for young peo­ple who may be strug­gling at times and need some­one to trust, look up to and guide them when par­ents or grand­par­ents aren’t able or avail­able.

Be­yond that, busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als in ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas who may not have easy ac­cess to such sup­port could also greatly ben­e­fit from such a con­nec­tion, if it’s not be­ing done al­ready. Food for thought.

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