I approached it with a degree of trepidation, unsure if I was willing to bare my professional soul.
After an open and exploratory first chat, it turns out I definitely was. My mentor – Jane Woolley – and I established an easy rapport, talked things through and agreed two goals. I wanted to feel more confident in the contribution I was having. And I wanted to feel more comfortable about where my role fitted.
We began by looking at the purpose of my role, something I often fumbled when attempting to explain to others. With Jane’s external perspective and incisive questions, I revised it.
The new version cuts straight to the heart of my contribution to our strategy.
'To help colleagues and partners improve the effectiveness of initiatives promoting physical activity for all, through the purposeful and deliberate use of evaluation and learning.'
I then applied similar thinking to my six role objectives. Testing them, tweaking them, making them work a bit harder. Defining what was – and just as importantly, what wasn’t – a core part of my role.
Alongside this, the mentoring process continued.
I read a book Jane recommended about finding your contribution.
I experimented by scoring every meeting I attended out of 10 for how purposeful it felt and how satisfied I was with my contribution to it.
I talked with and listened to Jane and reflected on what we discussed.
I had parallel conversations with my line manager, from which I benefited enormously.
And I had many epiphanies while out running, which helped me resolve some of the uncertainty I was feeling.
It’s now April 2022. A new work year ahead and I’m looking forward to tackling it all with a renewed sense of clarity about my role and the difference I can make.
My new role purpose and objectives have become the anchor around which I can manage my work (and my workload) in a way that directly contributes to the ambitions of the team, and of the organisation.
My mentoring isn’t yet finished, but I feel like I’ve crested the hill.
The process has brought me a personal clarity that has kept me grounded and focused during turbulent times, and a calm appreciation of my place in the wider movement we’re all part of.
If some of this has rung true for you – if, like me, you sometimes worry, or need validation, or have imposter syndrome about your role – then I have two recommendations.
Firstly, look at your role. I mean really look at it. Challenge it. Critique it. Get an external opinion. Make it work for you. Identify your contribution – the unique and individual difference you make by turning up each day. Then be guided by it.
Secondly, try mentoring. Whether internal or external, formal or informal; whatever arrangement works for you.
Approach it with an open mind and an honest heart. Think about how it could help you, and don’t worry if you’re not sure – because the process itself will bring this out.
If you’d like to find out more then get in touch. I’ll be very happy to talk with you.