Mentoring is like a Chisel: Reflections from GAP Mentee

Mentoring is like a Chisel!

A Story of Impact shared by Global Ambassadors Program Mentee Nisreen Musleh

Mentoring is Like a Chisel!

MAY 2019 – Before the gleam of working in education was in my eye, I did not know the concept of mentoring. Many years passed before I realized that I practiced mentoring without even knowing. When one of my students got in touch with me after tens of years to tell me that she became a teacher thanks to my teaching practices that influenced her deeply, then and there I realized that mentoring is accommodated in various environments – not only business. She was only ten years old when she captured the ‘influence!’ Although this nugget of information came after I professionally made my way into the field of mentoring, it nudged my passion for mentoring even more and cemented my belief in its impact on the mentee and the mentor alike.

Taking my first steps into the business world, I stood in the shoes of my student to receive mentoring inputs with tooth and nail. I have been through a lot to know how to cherry-pick who has what it takes to mentor. A mentor is like a lighthouse; it does not show you a particular path but gives you a guiding ray of light to find your own way.

All these efforts where individual and informal, until I was privileged to participate in an esteemed mentoring program called Global Ambassadors Program (GAP) by Vital Voices, a very well-designed program that brings together well-established mentors and well-established mentees from around the globe. This program was an eye-opener for me on many fronts, one that I recall vividly after almost five years is succession planning for the business you started and still own!

 

Mentoring in business

My experience has shown me that mentoring is a safe zone for delicate give-and-take discussions to see matters from different angles and have a hand to help you understand the risks and their repercussions. Mentoring also serves as a resource you can dip into without the reins of your emotional attachment to the topic at hand. A true mentor never says things like ‘you’re totally wrong,’ ‘listen and take heed,’ or ‘do not do that because you will regret it’.

One becomes confident that they are with the right mentor if the latter listens carefully, asks, argues, and pushes you to decide what you want to do, whether wrong or right. Only you will decide and only you will know whether you will regret a certain decision or won’t, but the mentor allows you to think it all through.

Mentors are people whose expertise is harnessed by their social and professional walk in life; they are people who made wise and unwise decisions and learned from both. Being linked to such non-dictative mentors, you open up a window of opportunity to yourself to learn from their experience. I brushed up immensely on how to transfer knowledge and give a hand in improving the performance of whoever reaches out for advice and mentoring. It gives me great satisfaction to see others succeed.

After my participation in GAP , I received an invitation to pass on the experience to my community and organize a Palestine Mentoring Walk & Talk that links seasoned entrepreneurs to young women at the threshold of their careers and to join an international community arranging hundreds of walks in their communities as well. Participants divide into pairs and go on a walk as they discuss topics and share advice.

Excited by the opportunity, I found in the event a tool to shoulder a voluntary responsibility for spreading the concept of mentoring. I decided to organize the event every year, together with other individual and group mentoring activities, to network knowledge seekers and givers. These events found another kind of success. The favourable outcomes showcased that giving is at its best when it is freed from the reins of formal, bureaucratic projects. True benefit is never gained unless is voluntarily desired and is mutual, here sometimes bureaucracy gets in the way.

What is menteeship?

This word sticks with us since our birth! We are never true mentees by following instructions. On the contrary, guidance on what we need to learn and the steps to take is what builds up our knowledge! Though gentle guidance, not shouted out instructions, the knowledge we have since childhood is harnessed when our parents start dealing with us as responsible for improving skills such as walking, talking, and manners.

Mentees are often people that raise the bar on their performance, seek development, and nail it. If the mentor and the mentee have clear expectations, the results can be monumental.

As I am penning this article, I lay down the groundwork for the third mentoring walk featuring the theme of She’s Got Answers. This year’s signature walk event is linked with discussion, exploration, land, and nature. It coincided in its third edition with Palestinian’s Land Day to underline our attachment to our land that staged the historic walks of our great people.

Human experiences vary and extend a lifetime; each is just like a chisel strike that shapes our knowledge. Yet, when the person determines to transfer such knowledge to others, they boost new mindsets rather than cloning their own.

Nisreen Musleh is the founder and managing director of Ritaj for Managerial Solutions in Ramallah and a board member of the Palestinian Trainers’ Association.