• Chris Boorman

What are you willing to sacrifice for mentoring?

I firmly believe that everyone can benefit from having a mentor. However, there are plenty of people out there who have a mentor but are not realising the full benefit, by not committing the required time to their mentoring relationships. 

As the founder of Predator Coaching, where I am a certified strengths coach, and as the global talent manager at WaterAid, I have seen my fair share of mentoring relationships being formed. This combined coaching, mentoring and talent experience has led me to provide insights and support to countless individuals and organisations, around the important elements and considerations that make-up a successful mentoring relationship. One thing that continues to ring true is the need to commit to time for mentoring.

There is lots of good advice available on “how to find a mentor”, “how to approach a potential mentor”, “how to set objectives”, “how to make the most of the mentoring relationship”, and so on and so forth. In the best cases, mentees are asked to think about their commitment in terms of time, resources and objectives, but rarely have I heard anyone commit to sacrificing something else in their life to create time for mentoring.

Recently, I attended the Across Organisations Mentoring Programme (AOMP) mid-year review. The programme was created to provide employees of NGO’s in the development sector an opportunity to gain access to mentors from other organisations in the sector to support leadership development and address critical skill gaps. Whilst discussing why mentoring relationships fail to meet expectations, we looked at matching, briefing sessions, tools and resources, etc. I couldn’t help but think the root cause mentoring relationships failure may well be a lack of planned time.     

I am sure that we can all relate to not having enough time in the day. The tasks that we know are important but not urgent never quite get finished, or drift into the next day, week or month. Mentoring requires a time commitment - FACT. It takes time to think about suitable objectives, what an individual wants to gain from the mentoring process, what type of mentor would be a good fit and to put the advice gained through mentoring into practice.

To create an appropriate of amount time, it’s a logical conclusion that an already busy person will need to give up something else. Here are 5 things you could consider.

5 things to consider giving up:

1)   Watching TV – A recent article in the Independent stated, the average person spends almost 10 years of their life watching TV, according a new poll. A survey of 2,000 adults in the UK found that respondents watched around 27 hours’ worth of television in a typical week, approximately 3 hours per day. This seems to me like a good place to start, but I appreciate not all of us watch television.

2)   Unhealthy food – Consider eating healthier food and plan what you eat. Avoid eating unhealthy food and snacking when bored, stressed, anxious or over tired. Carrying extra weight is going to slow you down and lead to you being more tired. Create a diet, including snacks where healthy food provides you energy and helps you be more productive which should ultimately create more time in your day.

3)   Stress – Wouldn’t it be great if we could just give up stress? Unfortunately, I think that’s impossible, but we should look for activities that reduce our stress levels and enable us to perform at our best. Stress, in the right environment, can of course help us produce fantastic results in the short space of time. However, over a longer period, finding activities to reduce stress levels will allow you to focus more on productive tasks.

4)   Habitual tasks – We are all guilty of doing certain tasks in a certain way, because that’s how we’ve always done them. A good example is attending meetings at work. We often attend the same weekly or monthly meeting, have the same discussions and often leave without really accomplishing anything. I would encourage everyone to review the impact of meetings, especially if they’ve been running for 3 months or longer and challenge the value of them.

5)   Drinking alcohol – Cutting back or stopping alcohol consumption all together will improve your digestion and the quality of your sleep which will give you more energy. I’m sure some will argue alcohol can provide clarity of thought, which results in innovative ideas, but generally speaking it will reduce energy levels and impact our productivity.  

Starting today, I will be asking every mentee I speak to about mentoring, “what are you willing to sacrifice?” and I encourage you to do the same to help more mentoring relationships have successful outcomes. 

Chris Boorman

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