There are many ways in which we as South Africans can assist with transformation. Mentoring is one that is key as an inter-generational solution. So what exactly is mentoring? Here is a definition from Wikipedia:
“Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored, but he must have a certain area of expertise. It is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn. Mentorship experience and relationship structure affect the “amount of psychosocial support, career guidance, role modelling, and communication that occurs in the mentoring relationships in which the protégés and mentors engaged”.
I often hear people say, I do not know enough to mentor someone? This should not be true. We all have skills in some area of life and the ability to mentor is more about the will and heart to engage and want to make a difference. It is a commitment of time but the gift and learning for the mentor is often as much or more than that imparted to the mentee.
There are formal mentor structures within the workplace, organisations that offer the process and informal mentorship. The decision to want to engage should be something you investigate by understanding the process and then finding the right platform for you.
I am currently involved in a number of mentorship relationships. One through a formal process with the Cherie Blair Foundation and the other with a young girl from my church. I do from time to time also have a number of mentoring conversations with younger women trying to balance their lives between parenting, work and home life. I find this work very rewarding and it opens up areas of challenge and learning as well as relationships to nurture.
Imagine the following:
What if every day care centre had a woman who was prepared to mentor and walk alongside the owner? How would this change both their lives?
What if every young entrepreneur was able to be supported by a mentor in their area of expertise?
How could you make a difference to a young person in your circle of influence?
What if every student at university had a mentor?
Apprenticeship is a form of mentorship. This could be an amazing way to solve the skills development of young artisans.
In a changing world, there are also opportunities for reverse mentoring. An older person needing to learn technology and social media skills?
I love to imagine a world where we can all make a difference in our area of influence and expertise. We cannot change the world, but we certainly can make a difference to our world.