Enhancing personal growth

Ancient Greek leaders chose a ‘pedagogue’ to provide guidance for their decisions and personal and professional growth. Aristotle acted as such for King Alexander. The ‘pedagogue’ was much more than a teacher. He would give feedback to his ‘pupil’, offer alternative courses of action, show the wider picture, and be simultaneously confidante and critic without regard to the outcome of his interventions. The model of pedagogue and pupil became lost over time but has made a comeback in the form of ‘mentor’ and ‘client’. Hans Wissema has acted as mentor to over a hundred managers, students and others, helping them with their career choices, and their professional and personal lives. Being a mentor is different from being a coach, which implies regular, personal meetings. Mentoring in his case means giving short advice by email, when the client needs it. Sometimes the communication is intensive, several times per week - sometimes there are lapses of months.

Everybody needs a mentor

Mentoring implies a good deal of what we call ‘contra-thinking’ (the expression stems from Hans Wissema’s article Driving through red lights). Contra-thinking is following the decision making process from a different position and wider paradigm than that of the actor himself or herself, as well as playing the role of critical antagonist by constantly holding up a mirror. Listening to the contra-thinker can aid the actors in separating emotions from facts. The presence of a contra-thinker can also help you to become conscious of all that is going on in the process, and of the possible implications of proposed decisions.

Mentoring implies ‘contra-thinking’

Hans Wissema summarised many of his mentoring experiences in a new book, Siberian Lessons of Life, Love and Death (see the summary under Downloads). This is a travelling novel with lessons about life and personal development, giving original views on many issues. Readers say it is a ‘wise’ book and that it exactly describes their own problem, whatever that problem may be. The book was published in Bulgarian by Kibea Publishers in February 2013 and in Dutch in June 2013 - with Uitgeverij Aspekt aThe English version will also be published by Aspekt and is due end of October 2013. Later in the year, there will be an electronic version (in English only) at the eBookstore of Apple. 

Mentoring led to a new book

Mentoring is not expensive. We keep track of the time spent – in minutes – and at the end of the month you get an invoice with payment instructions. If you wish to try it out, e-mail to jgw@wissema.com; the first exchange is cost-free. Mentoring is not psycho-analysis. Hans Wissema responds on the basis of a lifetime of experience in consulting enterprises and counselling people; he is not a psychologist.

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