Donna Montaquila

Why is mentorship important and how do you enact it in the world?

According to Wikipedia, “Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. Personal development includes activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations”.

Thank you Wikipedia for clearly defining a process that I, and others participate in daily, in all aspects of life without really realizing what we are doing.

If you are like me, hearing the word mentorship immediately my thoughts go to a work environment, supporting a person through guidance to achieve their next level of success. It could also be an environment at home with a child, trying to influence a most pressing decision they need to make through stories of my past experiences so the path becomes obvious and the decision easier. Or trying to unscramble a friend’s confused mind when so many situations present themselves at one time in their life.

In each case, the journeys with the coworker, child, or friend began by listening to the circumstances facing them. A suggestion usually leads to a discussion. That discussion sets the path that hopefully leads to their personal achievement. Occasionally the path needs to be reworked. Sometimes the path is unsuccessful and a new course of action is required. Regardless of the outcome, a conversation based on care and concern took place and an understanding of their needs happened. And that exchange of thoughts and knowledge is what really matters and is why mentorship is important.

Our country is large and the world is massive. There is much going on. Some events are good and others not good. Today’s technology enables us to receive information quickly, even in real time. Too often the explanation of the event we are viewing is described in sound bites. The sound bites leave much for our imagination to interpret. And usually an opinion is formed based on that, opposed to forming an opinion on fact.

Nationally and globally mentoring can be a challenge because we are not directly involved in the situations. A more indirect approach is needed but the same elements of mentoring can apply. Learn about the topic; listen to what is taking place on both sides. Then relate to your past experience. The experience could have been solving a family disagreement or presenting information to a friend to allow them to make a wiser decision. One direct way to mentor is to send your thoughts to your Governor or U.S. Congressman to influence and guide their decisions. Just think, at that time we will be influencing the mentors, how great is that!

Donna Montaquila is the director of The HeatSmart Campaign, an initiative of Northwest Woolen Mills. Over the past nine years the program has developed into a successful national program providing energy efficient tools that allow households to reduce their heating cost and save energy while keeping warm within their homes. Prior to developing HeatSmart, Montaquila was advertising director for two newspapers and has been employed with two Fortune 500 companies. She has served on numerous committees and presently is a member of Women Ending Hunger at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Marketing from Johnson & Wales University. Montaquila is a member of the Association of Energy Service Professionals.

photo by Agapao Productions