The selfish mentor
I get a kick from helping people do things they could not do before. Whether that is teaching scuba diving, helping in scouting or mentoring in the workplace. That’s not all I get. Teaching people how to dive has helped me become a better diver. Scouting has made me a better communicator. Mentoring has strengthened me professionally in a number of ways as I learn from those I mentor.
I was late to mentoring. I looked around the workplace and saw people that knew more than I so thought I had little to offer. This is something called the imposter syndrome and not a trait of dyslexia. I eventually got promoted enough that mentoring became something expected of me. I discovered I did have perspectives that colleagues valued from understanding. I also found that it helped me better reflect on why I do some of the things I do (and perhaps why I should do different things).
The Dyslexic Productivity Expert
I’m not a productivity expert. I’m not even particularly knowledgeable about productivity. I’m not especially productive. I have experimented a lot since discovering my dyslexia to find things that work for me. Sometimes it’s even been helpful. I learned through mentoring others that without being a world leading expert it is still possible to share knowledge either from a point of only slightly more experience or possibly even just a different perspective. I don’t blog because I am an expert – I’ve just tried a lot of things in the search to get better.
Sometimes knowing a lot about something can make it hard to share your knowledge with someone who knows very little. The expert forgets all the things they had to learn, the difficulties they had and that can make them ineffective as a teacher.
I really enjoy mentoring and I only have the bandwidth to do so much of it. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, I’m not in the right headspace when an appointment comes around. Over a period of a couple of months, I had short mentoring engagements with a few people who all had similar problems and I gave them all slightly different advice. This caused me to reflect – what were the things that made one approach more suited to that situation. Could I capture this in a logical way to make it easier to share? At this time I was also asked to record a talking heads video for managers to explain what dyslexia was and how they could better manage dyslexic staff. Bingo I thought – I’d record that video and then do a series of follow up on topics I frequently cover in mentoring sessions. After sitting in front of the rolling camera with lights shining in my face trying to read of the auto promoter I quickly put that idea to one side.
A tool for self-improvement
I’m using this blog to force me to reflect on some of the tools and techniques I have used. To incentivise me to dig a little deeper into things I have tried and abandoned. Even if no one reads it then I still have a resource I can use when I’m mentoring. It might also help me improve my written work. It is forcing me to formalise what I already know and explore where I “know” things that appear incompatible.
It’s not easy – but personal growth happens on the edge of your comfort zone. Research suggests that expecting to teach enhances learning. In the short time I have been blogging I have discovered that I engage more deeply with a range of topics I would have previously only considered superficially. If I run out of things I know it will force me to learn more and think about how I can share that. I might even build up the confidence to talk about the less comfortable aspects of my dyslexia and dyspraxia.