Mentoring inspiration: unlikely sources in everyday life

Mentoring inspiration: unlikely sources in everyday life

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Daunted by the idea of ‘finding a mentor’? Don’t worry – mentoring inspiration can strike in the most everyday scenarios. Join us as we uncover a collection of great mentors, wherever you are in the world.


But mentoring isn’t all 1-2-1s with inspirational leaders. Whether you’re in the majority still figuring out the path to a dream mentoring relationship, or among the lucky few already reaping the benefits, you might be overlooking less obvious, easy-access sources of inspiration. As everywoman associate Sara Parsons outlined in our recent webinar ‘What to look for in a mentor’, ‘You can tap into sources of great learning in your immediate environment – whether it’s TED talks, inspirational Tweets or everywomanNetwork webinars’. 


Sara’s tip: When using such sources, keep a notebook to record relevant affirmations, tips and observations you can come back to when needed.



The best TED talks are viewed in their multi-millions, be it business-related classics Your body language shapes who you are, The puzzle of motivation, and How great leaders inspire action, to the ‘I never knew that’ gems that open minds to a world of possibilities (see A vision of crimes in the future, The mathematics of love and How we found the giant squid). You could spend your every lunch hour engrossed in the learning TED offers, but you’d be missing out on a myriad of lesser-known, quirkier sources of online video learning from the rest of the world.


TED’s Indian cousin INK Talks is ‘part of a movement to change how the young at heart view their world, goals and ambitions, particularly in emerging economies’. With diversity at its core, INK’s speakers include the female tea sommelier intent on educating India about the humble tealeaf and Facebook’s first woman engineer, Maharashtra-born Ruchi Sanghvi.  


The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) is a London-based organisation whose short animated videos are as much an inspiration in beautiful presentations as they are a source of digestible knowledge. See a fascinating short history of the evolution of empathy and the tantalizingly titled 'Where do good ideas come from?'



Turn your daily commute into a platform for receiving inspiration from some of the greatest thinkers in the modern world. BBC Worldwide’s podcast service collates some of the best minds from every continent, with a new episode of ‘The Forum – A World Of Ideas’ dropping each Tuesday. Recent additions include a neuroscientist and a calligrapher debating whether writing by hand improves our minds, and a poet and an anthropologist going head to head on the subject of the origins of imagination.



Sometimes, however, your portfolio of role models might include distant mentors, whose words and actions become the fabric of our history. Thanks to digital media, their thoughts and inspirations are more accessible than ever before. The Nobel Prize website has downloadable audio recordings of talks with laureates past and present. And has an impressive online archive of the most inspirational speeches in history, including Amelia Earhart on her first flight, Fannie Lou Hamer on the roots of her black rights activism, and Sally Ride, the first American woman on her journey into space.    



Experience the joy of learning for learning’s sake at a public lecture at a local college or university. A quick search for ‘public lectures’ plus the name of a local institute will usually throw up opportunities. A few minutes on Google can quickly reveal the greatest lectures wherever you are in the world; whether that’s on international conflicts at the University of Johannesburg, the future of sustainability at University College London, or planetary missions at the Fergusson College in Pune, India.


Extracurricular learning may help relieve stress through conscious mindfulness (who can think about work when they’re trying to get their head around astrophysics?), inspire solutions through out-of-the-box thinking, and challenge you to channel your understanding of new concepts in ways you never thought possible.



Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that his goal for 2015 is to read a book a fortnight. We encourage you to set your own reading targets, selecting from the wealth of available writing by well-known women whose stories inspire.


Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has warned of the dangers of limited reading, particular accepting any one book as the ‘story’ of a nation or country. Look for essays and biographies of women everywhere – go around the world in 80 books if you will. Mentors and role models don’t have to look like us, think like us or be like us; the most inspirational viewpoints might come from the unlikeliest of sources.


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