The Importance of a Personal Vision in Mentoring
Benjamin Disraeli said “The secret of success is constancy of purpose”. Despite the British statesman saying this around 200 years ago, this statement is still true today – and will continue to be true into the future. For some this falls over at the first hurdle – actually identifying their purpose or their personal vision. As a mentor this is something which you should ensure your mentee has established.
Numerous experts on leadership and personal development say that it is vital to have a personal vision for your life; that it can help you succeed far beyond where you would be without one. A strong personal vision can drive you and can also inspire those around you to reach for their own vision. Indeed without a personal vision, you run the risk that others will plan and direct your life for you. Resulting in your reflections on your life starting with: “If only I had……”. This is a regret none of us want to have.
Internationally renowned organisational strategist, Peter M Senge is recognised as an expert in personal growth, human values and team efforts. His book The Fifth Discipline, which was published in 1990, provided theories and methods to foster aspiration, develop reflective conversations and understand how to shape learning-oriented organisations. Senge defines personal vision as what you want to create of yourself and the world around you.
As a mentor you are able to help your mentee identify their personal vision. To aid your conversation we have provided a number of open-ended questions you may want to ask your mentee. These questions will help your mentee identify what their vision should include, what their values are, what they are good at, what they are passionate about, as well as what they aren’t good at now but would like to be good at. Our questions to stimulate their thoughts include:
- What I enjoy doing
- What brings me happiness
- The two best moments of my past week
- Three things I would do if I won the lottery
- Issues/causes I care strongly about
- My most important values
- Things I am good/excellent at
- What I would like to stop doing
The mentee may not have an answer to all of these questions. But identifying an answer to some of these may unlock their thoughts and ideas about what their vision should include. As a mentor you should be able to provide the mentee with constructive feedback on their answers to these questions, to probe and encourage the mentee to reflect still further on their answers.
A personal vision should be unique to its owner. It should be concise and inspiring of their goals, values and aspirations. It should help to clarify their purpose, direction and motivation in life and work. It can stretch to any timeline – it can focus on the short term or 20 years hence. Here is an example of a personal vision just to stimulate ideas:
“I have completed my professional exams. I am a successful entrepreneur, using my creativity and innovation to make a positive impact on my community. I am physically fit; having fun every day; and am able to s spend proper time with my loved ones.”
A mentor should encourage their mentee to share and act on their personal vision. It should be a living guide that influences the mentee’s decisions and behaviours – and drives their short-term goals and actions.
A personal vision is not a static document, but a dynamic and evolving one. It should reflect a mentee’s current situation, goals and aspirations and adapt to the changes and challenges they face. As a mentor you should help your mentee revisit and update their vision statement periodically, and check that it still aligns with their values, priorities and actions.