In 2018, I spent a few hours with a Banaras Hindu University library pulling up all the articles, studies and books on mentoring I could find. I found that the vast majority focus on how it is practiced in the workplace and how organization-wide programs are administered. There was strangely little analysis or advice on how to mentor the whole person, covering beyond the career to include discussions about behavior, values, relationships, parenting, finances, and even Innovation.
In my experience as a mentor in Sunbeam English School executive for 2 years, as a mentor to many colleagues and friends, and now as the regional mentor dedicated to helping students to do innovation, problem solving approach & entrepreneurship. I’ve learned that this more holistic approach is dramatically more effective in helping people fulfill their true potential. In fact, it’s one of the beauties of mentoring and what differentiates it from coaching for skill-building or performance.
When I met with Sunbeam English School students for the first time, I asked them to tell me the problem they see around them. There were many who raised their hand and spoke about the problems. When I again asked – “Can you suggest a solution”. I was amazed to listen to their solutions. Soon the hall was full of innovative ideas and solutions. This simple exercise can transform the path of a mentoring relationship because it shows that you’re truly interested in understanding. It gives you the knowledge of the student’s understanding which enables you to make more probing inquiries over time.
Perhaps the most important task is to take a mentee into their imagination/dreams: Dreams which he/she have? A simple yet effective way to unload this question for a mentee is to say: “Imagine he/she has everything, they dream of”. This exercise motivates students towards their goals.
My most valuable mentor experience over the 3-year period was an innovation, a successful idea which received many national and international prizes. These students were of class eight and nine- masters of insightful inquiry and sparing advice. They always had a series of questions to ask that enabled me to identify the real issue and come up with a course of action. A group of six girls developed a tool to save agriculture field from stray animals and birds. Three students, who developed a vision glass for blind people.
I still remember the day; it was July 2019. A student of class 6 came to me for a request. He asked me if I can ask ATL in charge to allow that him to use laboratory for his work. I was impressed with his dedication. I asked about his idea. He said- “He wants develop a submarine for Indian navy, which would be helping to compete with China & America”. He explained me the process, innovation he wants. I did not even have that much information, which he gave me. I was quite shocked.
This initiative can inspire many people to contribute towards the country’s development.
Regional Mentor of Change