I remember three people early in my career who were fantastic mentors to me.
There was Tracey, who taught me everything I needed to know about workshop design and delivery. Raj who built my confidence in strategy formulation and working with the client. And my boss Martin who showed me everything I needed to know about how goals drive behaviour. These are my standout memories. They inspired my career and showed me that success was possible.
Here’s the thing. Tracey, Raj and Martin were all people who had been there already; they had been on the path before me. They had experience to offer me – sometimes advice, sometimes demonstration, sometimes by working together – which helped me master new things, grow and learn.
Can we do this with Coronavirus?
After all, not many of us have been in a global pandemic before. (Anyone?)
Can we mentor each other at this time? Is anyone further down the path?
From my recent NHS Wellbeing coaching work and delivery of “Top Up Your Resilience Using Your Strengths” workshops, here are some of the challenges I am finding people are facing:
Does this relate to your experience?
Maybe it’s the same four walls, feeling remote from your colleagues, not meeting new people, yearning to be physically part of a group again, the boredem from every day feeling the same. Isolation can manifest in many different ways. It can seem that your new role in life is to add structure and create meaning to every day. Whatever it is, it’s hard.
Maybe it doesn’t feel worth it any more, doing your job; beavering away in your own hamster wheel. Does it make any difference? There are some really big problems out there to solve with delivery of health and education for everyone. Our own contribution can seem tiny and insignificant in comparison. We’ve lost our purpose, perspective, motivation and don’t know how to get started again.
Balancing work and family can be hard. Family may be too much; we see them all the time now and their annoying habits grind. Alternatively restrictions mean we may not see our family at all, especially if they are abroad. It feels there is no end coming, and we can’t make plans. Not ones we can be sure of, anyway.
Coronavirus is new territory for all of us.
What’s the answer? How can we help each other? I think it’s support that is needed, not mentoring.
Perhaps I can surprise you.
I was brought up to believe that offering or receiving support was a negative thing. A sign of weakness or failure to need it. That you should be able to bear all of the weight of things, to bear up, on your own. By yourself, in isolation, not shared and in private at all times.
How was it for you?
With a mindset and belief like mine, isolation, overwhelm and family concerns will be here to stay.
It’s taken me a long time to develop more positive, more helpful beliefs about support.
Here are my thoughts now, on what we can do to help each other:
- Ask how the other person is feeling. Listen in full. Unfiltered.
- Add perspective. Reflect back how you hear what the other person is saying. Expand how both you and they see the situation. Getting out of our own small hole helps. It’s easier done in a conversation with a mate.
- Get out walking. If you cannot walk physically with the other person, walk and talk at the same time and chat using your phone. Conversation combined with movement makes such a difference.
- Be brave. Initiate a conversation. It’s likely the other person wants one too.
If you want to take a look at your own beliefs about receiving and offering support, get in touch. Developing some replacement, more up to date, more helpful ones could make a real difference to you in the next few months with Coronavirus and beyond!
Do let me know what helps you develop positive action too.
Gill How loves to work with executives, professionals and managers to help them stretch and grow. She is a Master Executive Coach and Innovative Leadership Developer who works face to face and virtually in the UK and internationally. Please contact her for an exploratory conversation if her skills can help you succeed with your goals.
Gill draws on deep business experience, intuition, fun, honesty and some killer questions. I appreciated her commitment to my goals and her willingness to think creatively with me and I recommend her to you.
Andrew Mais, Managing Consultant / JMJ Associates