Most learning experiences – including hour-long workshops to week-long conferences – teach you relevant lessons, but few give you the knowledge or skills you need to make a serious transformation in your life. Having a mentor, whether a teacher or peer, is advantageous when improving your business or yourself.
In the past, I’ve signed up for webinars to learn new skills. When the webinar was over, it was up to me to apply the lessons. Over time, however, I noticed my business wasn’t getting the profits that I wanted. Recently, I decided to try something new, and registered for a course that had live webinars, as well as mentoring from the instructors and my peers. As a result of the mentoring, I noticed an immediate improvement in my learning experience for several reasons.
Learning is personalized
It’s easy to watch and observe while you’re learning something new. It’s easy to get excited about a new concept. But you don’t know if you’ve achieved true mastery of what you’ve learned until you have to apply it. Having a mentor personalizes your learning.
The interaction during a live webinar is motivating when you hear about how your peers are applying the lessons and getting positive results. You’ll feel like you’re on the right track and not alone in your journey toward self improvement.
You have the opportunity to ask questions about your situation. Your mentor will give you feedback about your particular concerns and comment on your progress. With this type of learning, I felt like my effort in the course mattered.
After each webinar, I had a chance to meet with peers on platforms such as Skype so we could practice what we had learned and discuss our opinions about learning points. I found these interactions with my peers made me accountable for my learning. I wanted to be the next person with a success story to share with the group.
Opportunities to practice and improve skills
With most courses and webinars, I would take notes, then shelve my notebook away somewhere until I needed to reference a point from one of the lessons. However, I’ve found that the best and safest way to implement what you’ve learned from a course is with practice. You can make mistakes without worrying about making mistakes.
A role play to demonstrate the point of a lesson can be an effective way to get a message across to an audience. However, it is difficult to tell if you truly mastered the objective of the lesson by watching the sample role play. For example, if you are learning how to deal with a difficult client, you can watch a role play of a conversation. When faced with a difficult client at your workplace, however, you might not be able to follow the script from the demonstration.
When you are involved in role playing during a practice session, you have the opportunity to try out a situation in a safe environment. If you make a mistake, you can try again. There was a time when I role played with two of my peers while others listened in the audience. The situation was a seller attempting to close a deal with a buyer and his wife. We paused and resumed the role play several times to figure out the best solution for the situation. Audience members also stepped in as we switched roles and tested out alternate endings. In reality, we wouldn’t have been able to rewrite the scenario so many times.
All of the practice sessions with peers are a valuable way for us all to grow our skills. Most importantly, only by practicing do we realize what we don’t know.
Opportunities for feedback
Having a chance to practice what you learn and receiving feedback from mentors is the best way to evaluate your learning. You have a safe environment to try out different scenarios and improve yourself. A mentor will tell you what you are and aren’t not doing well and give you suggestions that work for you.
For example, if you are learning how to be a more effective public speaker, your mentor could watch your presentation and provide you with feedback afterward. Your mentor might notice that you need to interact with your audience more. Instead of reading through a checklist of all the methods for improving speaker/audience interaction, your mentor could suggest tips that work specifically with your personality style.
Ongoing feedback is also critical to your self improvement. In the live webinar course, I had several opportunities to role play with peers over several weeks. After each session, I received feedback on what I did well and what I needed to improve. At subsequent sessions, I reviewed my notes on the feedback and applied it to my next role play. Over time, I noticed a gradual improvement in my skills.
Chances to review and reflect
Having a group to support and mentor each other is very important in your learning and growth. When your peers talk about how the lessons have changed them, you realize that you are not the only one going through a period of transformation.
It is very motivating when a peer shares how he applied the lesson and achieved a great result with a client. You feel motivated to do the same. When a peer talks about how she feels she’s changed because of the course, you can relate.
Mentorship is an effective way to learn. Your mentor is your guide as you develop new skills. Ongoing feedback from your teacher and the peers in your course allows you to learn at your own pace. The encouragement from your teacher-mentor and peer-mentors as you practice what you learn results in improved skills and knowledge.
If you are ready to learn from a mentor, you can follow these tips on finding the best mentor for you.