Robin's Mentoring Matters Blog

Tips, ideas, thoughts and opinions to motivate and inspire all who guide young people as they journey through adolescence to adulthood.

What is the most important life lesson you learnt from COVID-19?

What is the most important life lesson you learnt from COVID-19? Will you do things differently now? This might be a hard question to answer. Much will depend on your experiences to date. Lost a loved one during this time? Lost a job or business? School closed down for a while? Spent time in a lock down and isolation situation? Could not complete a course you wanted to finish off? Unable to travel, so lost an opportunity to pursue a dream or possible job opportunity? As I have followed the media, had to experience lock down and was unable to see my other family members, including my grandchildren, the most important lesson I have been reminded of again and again is how important relationships are – face to face relationships. And it has been interesting to listen to young people. All the majority of our youth wanted was to get back to school to be with their friends. How will the global community emerging from COVID-19 respond to this reality? More of the same? Seek to become a more compassionate, caring community? I am already reading many articles about online learning gaining momentum, shorter working weeks or more people working from home and so on. Yet, we have a chance to reimagine what our global community could be like. I have written elsewhere how I observed a Vertical Tutoring System transform a school and the time is surely right for schools to explore this system. It transforms school cultures in so many positive ways and there is a significant focus on how to build meaningful relationships. However, I digress....

10 top motivators for employers of young adults

Can you remember the people who influenced you the most when you joined the work force? How has the work place today differed from when you entered it for the first time? How would you motivate and encourage a young adult joining your team in their first career move? These are interesting questions to consider. They are questions I have been reflecting upon as I think about how COVID-19 will impact economic development in the months ahead. Neuroscience research continually reminds us that the brains of youth are only fully developed when they are in their mid-twenties. This highlights how important it is for empathetic employers to guide and navigate new young employees entering the work force for the first time. Here is what I learned.Research I spent some time researching employer and employee relationships, exploring what social researchers say and reading general articles in which employers share their experiences working with youth. I saw over the years how the advent of technology seemed to change the mindset of young employees. In some cases I saw youth unafraid to be creative and innovative. In other situations I observed young people unable to empathize with others, severely lacking teamwork and often with questionable management of time skills. I saw others who took life so seriously, were unable to laugh at themselves, and whose perfectionist attitude led to heightened stress levels. And, I observed others who lacked a healthy and balanced lifestyle which had a negative effect on their output. 10 top motivators  Here are ten of the top motivators employers can reflect on as they employ today’s youth, always remembering...

10 effective parenting tips as you work through COVID-19 with teenagers

How has COVID-19 impacted your relationships with your teenage child or children? How has COVID-19 impacted your relationships with young people? Are there any tips you can share to encourage other parents or adults working with youth? I have given plenty of thought to these questions in recent days, especially as I read how parents respond to the challenge of working from home and facilitating their child’s learning. Of course, the older the child, the more they should be able to study on their own. Is this true? Perhaps it is with many teenagers, though certainly not with all.  I hope that the COVID-19 experience strengthens relationships between parents and their children, as well as reinforces the importance of the nuclear family in our communities, and that it also improves relationships between schools and parents. Our global community will be enriched. Perhaps these ten proven tips will help. The framework When parents work as a team, their relationships within the family are strengthened and there will be fewer conflicts. Children watch how their parents interact with one another, how they approach conflicts and challenging situations and learn from these observations. They need to see that disagreements are a normal part of life, yet there are healthy strategies that can be followed to resolve any challenging issues or conflicts. When parents are seen to be working as a collaborative team, their attitude can provide the key to the long-term health and the developments of positive relationships. All children do not have the privilege of growing up in such a loving household, yet parents can still strive to develop a positive...

Your teenager’s 10 life lessons to bounce back from COVID-19

When you were a teenager how did you bounce back from adversity? What form did this adversity take – rejection by friends? A family bereavement? Challenging family circumstances? Living in a high-risk environment? Failing an exam? Omitted from a team? The COVID-19 lockdown, as I shared in my last blog, has helped me to focus on my new mentoring book due out later in the year with over 1000 tips, strategies and discussion topics to encourage anyone working with young people. I have had plenty of time to reflect on my own teenage years and how I dealt with cancer, the loss of my mother, changing family circumstances, peer relationships and all the challenges every teenager faces as they seek meaning and purpose in their lives. And, each time I reflect, I am drawn back to ten key life lessons which I have shared with hundreds of young people, especially those I have mentored. In almost every case I have observed extraordinary positive life journeys being developed before my eyes, as these young people embraced most, if not all the life lessons over a period of time. A unique time No teenager is likely to have experienced anything like COVID-19 in their lifetime, an event that will change how our global community thinks and operates. Already we are told that the creative, innovative and entrepreneurial spirit will be rewarded in the coming months and years as the global economy recovers from this pandemic. We have so many wonderfully creative young people whose creativity is often squashed by narrow-thinking, dull, exam driven education systems. Time to free them up and...

Your 13 Key Positive Qualities through COVID -19

Can you remember the relationships you had when you were an adolescent? Did you belong to a small clique or did you have a wide circle of friends? Do you think more deeply about what meaningful relationships are all about? Will you place your relationships at the front and center of your journey through the COVID -19 pandemic? We are living in ‘unprecedented times’. I hear this phrase every day at the moment, We move into a time of lock down. It will be tough, but I am fortunate, as I can still do my beautiful daily beach walk, and am now forced to finish my new mentoring book to meet the publisher’s end of April deadline. I won’t be able to link up with my daughter and her family and the grandchildren to enjoy lots of laughs. And, while writing this book – converting my 260 free podcasts into 312 daily messages – I have reflected on all the people who have impacted my life through expressing the spirit of mentoring. I have written tributes to some of these people in the new book. As I played plenty of sport in my youth, I tended to hang out with some of my team members in the different teams in which I participated, which led to a wider circle of superficial friendships, though I had one or two closer friends who remained friends for many years. My experiences also reminded me of a conversation I had with 16-year-old Gabby who was working through relationship issues. Gabby was keen to do well at school and was genuinely striving to fulfill...

How you can inspire the rebellious teenager – a true story

Have you ever felt like quitting on your teenage child or a young person you have been working with? Do you ever feel like you are hitting your head against a brick wall? I certainly have had these thoughts, though my passion to encourage teenagers to reach their potential has led me to try ANYTHING to encourage them to make some positive choices. I hope that Emma’s true story will serve as an encouragement to you and you might be motivated by some of the secrets I am sharing in this journey I undertook with her.Seventeen-year-old Emma was a young girl I mentored a few years ago. She had a volatile temper, which students knew. There were many times her peers pushed that anger button to get a reaction.  And, when she reacted, the language was vile, a fairly sure sign of a young girl who lacked self-confidence. Underneath this angry and tough exterior though, I was quick to discover, was a wonderfully caring individual who would make sacrifices for others and expect nothing in return. An example of this was the way she purchased a snack for a peer she did not know well who had left their money at home, and was attending an event at the place where Emma did casual work. Not interested in counselling Emma refused point blank to see a counselor, was shocking at her management of time, a great procrastinator, and did not believe in setting goals because she had convinced herself she would never achieve any of them. I was approached by a colleague and asked if I would have a...

How my students taught me ten key mentoring skills – a true story

What is the greatest life lesson a young person has taught you? Can you remember the actual time and place where that occurred? I was thinking about this recently as I continued my research for my new mentoring book due out later this year: Mentoring Minutes: 320 Daily messages to inspire anyone working with youth. The book is an updated version of my short series of free podcast  episodes developed to encourage anyone mentoring youth, after a helpful challenge and suggestion from Patrick, one of my past students. As I paged through scrap books and files of letters and thank you cards over a cup of coffee on the deck, I began to appreciate how much my interactions with students I taught or coached over forty-three years had shaped my personality. Paolo and Iain probably have no idea how their brief conversations with me transformed my life and made my interactions with other students more meaningful. Are you teachable? These two young men sowed the seeds of the spirit of mentoring in my life early in my teaching career. Let me explain. The ten most important life lessons my students taught me There will be more than ten life lessons my students taught me over the years. However, these are the most important and, as I reflected on them, I came to appreciate how important these are for anyone who invests their time and energy to mentor youth. 1. Be authentic. Sixteen-year-old Paolo was my first team hockey captain in the late 1970’s. After a practice we stood on the side of the field chatting. I rested one foot...

How you can inspire teenagers – a true story

Can you remember times during your adolescent years when life seemed to be particularly hard; you jumped one hurdle and then something else occurred and knocked you down; up you got again and something else happened? Small rocks to stumble over, bigger rocks to obstruct your pathway.  How did you respond? Thinking about this led me to some work I did a while ago when I looked at how youth mentoring programs helped young people coming from a high risk environment. I created a check-list, if you like, that would be invaluable to anyone mentoring such a young person. As I thought some more, I was reminded of the years I spent informally mentoring Nick, a teenager from a high risk, volatile environment in South Africa during the dark days of apartheid. I learnt so much about life from many interactions with Nick – an amazing young man who inspired me through the way he overcame adversity. Nick arrived at the School where I was teaching at the time and was placed in the boarding house of which I was the housemaster. Nick’s mother was a domestic servant and he was, in his own words: “.. a young man from the townships who could not even speak English. I was scared but excited. I had to prove myself. Here were the white boys who had privileged positions all their lives. Their primary education was preparing them to be the bosses, whilst mine was to serve their interests. Here I had to compete with them on the same footing. I can tell you it was not easy.” 10 proven tips to...

How to encourage youth to reach their potential – a true story of transformation

How many times, as a teenager, did you feel alone and battling the world? I remember times when I was alone and trying to puzzle what life was all about. I would be asking questions like: Why me? Why can’t I be like that person? Why? Why? Why? Sue (16) was battling with a serious personal issue. She was a boarder at the school. One afternoon she popped in to see me in my office. Students knew that, if my door was open, they could feel free to come in and chat. I was the school principal at the time. Sue started talking in fairly general ways about school, life, her favorite subjects, things she enjoyed doing and so on. I listened with interest. After a while she shared that she was not looking forward to returning home during the school holidays. Her father was disabled as a result of a work accident. He had been left crippled and was confined to a wheelchair. Sue said that he was abusive towards her and had a violent temper. From the way she talked, the abuse was verbal and nothing else – still, tough for a teenager, whose brain is still developing and prone to emotional outbursts, to contend with. We needed to think through possibilities. Explore options and be non-judgmental We explored the different options open to Sue. I sowed some seeds to encourage her to think outside of her comfort zone. Sue reflected and responded. One idea was for Sue to apply for a United World College Scholarship. This was a Scholarship that would cover her education and boarding...

12 ways to be the love you wish to feel in 2020

What positive memories will you store from your 2019 experiences? How have you expressed care and concern (love) to others? How have you received the love of others? While reading the newspaper this morning, I reflected on articles which highlighted key events of the past year, key achievements of individuals and others. I reflected on the awful bush fires that have been sweeping through Australia and parts of the USA in recent times, the floods that have hit other areas, the senseless killing of innocent people by politically motivated individuals or groups and (in my opinion) the lack of empathetic and strong leaders in our global community who genuinely want to bring about world peace, an end to poverty and the cessation of war. We reach the end of a difficult year. A time to reflect, store the good memories, learn lessons from poor choices and then move into 2020 with new goals and thoughts. Then I thought about how my grandparents would have thought about the current state of the world. Rumors of war My grandparents lived through two World Wars, a Great Depression and a couple of them lived through the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Middle East conflicts. They would have witnessed the birth of Communist Russia, Communist China and the oppression during the Cold War. My guess is that they would justifiably be asking if all these wars were fought in vain? Have we learnt anything from history? Why do we bring so much suffering upon ourselves? And, they would probably be wondering what has happened to traditional family values? They would probably...