Edited Image 2015-4-27-14:14:54

Last week I was a mentor on the South West Young Achiever Program (SWYAP). As a past participant, albeit 13 years ago, I knew a bit of what to expect. The program is a three day live in experience with a group of other young people and the days are spent on personal and professional development in workshops and sessions on such topics as leadership. time management, goal setting, financial knowledge, mindset and a whole heap more.

As an older and hopefully slightly wiser head than the participants, my role as mentor involved being around the group of 20 and just being a friend to them, helping them out with the sessions and also some life advice. The mentoring side was something I really enjoyed, but I also got a lot out of the sessions myself, so here's a few life lessons that I learnt.

  1. 'There's your truth, someone else's truth and the real truth is in the middle' - we all find ourselves judging others when we don't necessarily know the reason why they do what they do. I have caught myself out on this one a couple of times since hearing this!

  2. The Curse of Knowledge - initially I wasn't sure what he was going on about, but then it clicked. As an accountant, we can talk jargon and accounting terminology all day but if the client doesn't understand it then we have lost it. We need to forget the knowledge we have learnt and go back to the way we learnt it to be able to explain it to clients.

  3. We all learn off each other - the presenters were all very good in their presentations and being older than most of us (me included), I learnt a lot from them. A couple of them are mentors to me in various fields so I was being mentored by them and using what I heard to mentor to the participants.

  4. Your mindset is a massive thing - it's not so much what happens to you in life but rather how you deal with it. Say you get cut off while driving - you could get angry and work up a road rage or think 'maybe there's a very good reason he cut me off, maybe he's on his way to the hospital with his heavily pregnant wife in the back'. The way you react will then change your thinking from either a positive thought to a negative thought.

  5. We are all in the same boat - in the group we had a participant start showing some emotion early on day one. At an appropriate moment later on, one of the other participants went over to them and said 'don't worry that you were getting emotional, you were just showing what we are all feeling inside'. We're all scared and anxious and don't know what we've got ourselves into'. I realised I was kind of in the same situation but we all had the understanding that none of us really knew what to expect from the three days. By the Gala Dinner on Saturday night we are all a big friendly group and all the worries of the past three days had been long forgotten.

Now the challenge for us is to put these life lessons in practice