How many of you have mentors and if so, what difference have they made to your life?
Mentoring has been brought into sharp focus for me over the last few days, following the sad untimely death of a bit of a Royal Air Force legend, Squadron Leader Kerr Mcintosh.
I have been thinking about the effect that Kerr had on my life. Whilst I did learn much from Kerr, in my first commissioned tour as a Flying Officer at RAF Wattisham in 1990/92, it is in another sphere that he had a real influence on me. Kerr was an adventurer and experienced mountaineer and I was privileged whilst at Wattisham, to be introduced by him to hardcore mountaineering and climbing. In a period of 18 months, we climbed Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis, Kinder Scout, Stanage Edge (where I learnt to abseil and climb), the Cairngorms and Kingussie crags. It seems surreal to think that this was all in such a short space of time and oddly for RAF life, after Wattisham, I never caught up with him again face to face, although I heard about many of Kerr’s scrapes and escapades through other colleagues.
Kerr was my adventurer mentor. I had a little bit of experience in the mountains before I met Kerr but he introduced me to something that has brought me and my family joy, challenge and indeed sometimes solace.
What does a good mentor do? Well to my mind they empower a mentee to develop their own strengths, beliefs, and personal attributes. They demonstrate enthusiasm in their field of interest. Most importantly a good mentor shapes mentees into leaders and not followers. Kerr did all that but on reflection, it is the final point which had a lasting influence on me, into work life as well as a mountaineer. I had some epics with Kerr and came through them wiser, having overcome adversity and challenge. He helped me with my leadership skills, no doubt.
I enjoy mentoring others myself and indeed recently I have joined the mentoring programme as an Alumni of Leicester University; I am now working with two students. I don’t claim to be the most amazing mentor but if I can have just a fraction of the positive influence that Kerr had on me with my two contacts, then I will be content.
Even if you only know mentors for short periods of time, they can be such a positive influence on your life. I recommend you find one. Thank you Kerr…rest easy big man.