One of the many great benefits of working at the PAST Foundation is that I have the great privilege of living in the Venn diagram of Applied STEM, Mentorship and Design Thinking. It’s a unique space to live within and it has become second nature to me at this point. It has also proven to be incredibly valuable tool in the #COVID19 world in turmoil. It’s easy to see the truth that behind all the motivations to how we connect, the layers of technology, and social distancing, the constantly changing social norms, the common denominator is the human desire to connect. If content is king, connection is key.
Recently I began working with my PAST Team on a project for a corporate client to develop skills and insights into corporate to community and school mentorship. I was a member of one of three two-member team cohorts working with this client to train them in the basics of mentorship. Mentorship is something I personally have a great deal of experience in. I have written about this before on this blog. I am fully aware that mentorship is a two-way street; it is always appropriate for the mentor to become the mentored. That being said it was still a very pleasant surprise when I realized there was a very real and valid opportunity to connect two of my group to become mentors to me.
The hitch was that the area I needed mentorship in was not PAST related; It was a personal mission. This was an unexpected connection that happened as a result of one of the trainings. Our ideas and needs were so relevant to each other, I knew instantly that I needed their insight and wisdom. So I reached out to them personally, and asked them to be my mentors. And they graciously agreed.
In the traditional mentorship model, there is very little expectation for reciprocation in mentorship. If there was ever a time to think outside of the box, this is the time to innovate and set the ego aside. We are all humans. We are all learning new ways of connecting, growing, and we are all facing unprecedented challenges. If we can’t innovate and react to the changing world, and do it authentically and with relevance, then what are we really teaching and learning? I believe this is the future of work, the future of learning, and the future in general. I was also delighted with how easy it was to “cross the streams” of this new adventure in mentorship.
After reviewing the conversations, I saw that we worked across five different channels! And we all adapted seamlessly. The opportunity they helped me achieve was a success. It was a thrill to reach back out to them and humbly tell them that their mentorship was a success. Their responses to me of support and gratitude was proof of my success as a mentor. At it’s best, mentorship is a sustainable relationship that works on the basic human need to connect. I am delighted that what on paper seems like vulnerability and awkwardness was really one of the most natural of interactions.