Mentoring with arm-bands…

Last week I mentored at a private two-day retreat whose eleven attendees were all academics from a renowned UK university. Needless to say, I had been a little nervous in advance..!

Firstly we were talking about hosting / steering / having 1-2-1s with proven intellectual heavyweights. Secondly, I knew very little about any of their specialisms – and some of them were indeed very specialist! And thirdly, what if they all turned out to be grumpy and snootily superior professor-types?

I needn’t have worried! The most important thing was that they were all really friendly, engaging, accepting people it proved a pleasure to meet. Thanks guys! And secondly, even though I could hardly comment on their subject specialisms, they all came to the retreat with one thing in common: they were writing something.

So in the 1-2-1s I was able to use my experience to help focus on the ‘how’ of writing: the process, how you get from A to B – things like that. And, similar to the rest of us, some were struggling a little with questions about what they were writing, the direction in which it was going, how they reached an end-point. In those areas I was able to help, to make suggestions, to get some of them to see their challenges from a different perspective.

At the end of the retreat everyone went away happy – if a little reluctantly! – glad to have made progress. For the majority, their goals for the event had been met. Even surpassed in one or two cases.

The whole thing was an absolute delight, and I look forward to working with the university again in the future.

Now I have two days in Scotland with a very old friend before mentoring at a three-day public retreat next week. I’m sure that will be equally stimulating!

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