Mentoring is another buzzword that many people talk about in relation to their personal or professional lives nowadays. One of the first mentoring encounters I came across is in Homer’s Odyssey. Mentor was a friend of Odysseus, and when Odysseus left for the Trojan War, he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus.
Returning to my own story, I must confess that over many years I benefited from various mentors in my personal and professional life. Mentoring in many ways has been a stabiliser, and has replaced the void left by my father’s odyssey, as it did for Telemachus. However, this is not to say that mentoring is helpful only in circumstances like these.
In March 2020, I decided to switch sides and started mentoring a young boy and little did I know at the start how much this process would change me.
Here are a few lessons I learned while mentoring:
As we all know, in March 2020, something else happened. The pandemic kicked off meaning that most of last year’s sessions were online. This raised many challenges, including how to build a relationship with a young boy who I only had opportunity to meet once in person, and who was full of energy after spending all day doing school online.
During our online sessions, I learned how to be adaptable and creative to tailor the sessions to his needs and balance it with meaningful content.
All he wanted to do was play and rightly so. If I was his age, the last thing I would want is to listen to a ‘stranger’ telling me about something that I was only vaguely interested in.
I sought to enter his fascinating world and allow him to have a voice in what we do. When he wanted to play, we played. If he wanted to watch Premier League highlights, we watched the highlights. But I also made sure we had some time to do some cardio exercises, chat and read from different books.
Mentoring is fun
However, once we could meet in person things become full of good energy and enjoyment. From trips to the local city farm, playing football or games, and occasionally visiting a local bakery (we kept things healthy!), we had loads of fun.