Mentors, mentorship and qualities to look out for

Mentors, mentorship and qualities to look out for

“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.”

Anonymous

 Why do we have mentors? Why do we need mentors? What is a mentor?

This type of person is not necessarily in the lime-light or has social status, it can be the person next to you or even an equal. A mentor leads by example and is not always aware of the people following their example. By setting an example you are seen as a mentor. This is not always deliberately, but because of certain personal morals and values, you set an example to others. Being a mentor means exhibiting integrity and responsibility – inspiring and motivating others to reach their goals, being it in a business, or social environment.

Starting off in the business world, I was nervous and unsure about what to expect. I knew I wanted to lead my business by empowering and encouraging my employees. By leading in a positive and well-structured manner, you achieve optimal productivity and efficiency. A positive working environment will motivate not only yourself, but your employees as well. This will help them in gaining and building their knowledge. I want them to feel comfortable and respected in their profession. But trying to achieve this is not easy.

Virtual_Assistant_Mentor

Luckily, I have a person in my life that taught me how to achieve these goals.

I do not even think my mentor knows he has influenced my life in such a way, but he surely made an impact.

Abe Beukes, the winemaker at Yonder Hill, needs to be mentioned, even if this is only for myself.

Photo by Daniel Naude

 

What Leading by example means

Having Patience and Endurance

Abe has taught me, if I want to reach my goals, I will need patience and endurance. Seeing the way he treats his employees and work closely with them, showed me how to lead my business in a way to create a positive environment. I strive to have an open, but professional, relationship with my employees. To do so I need to be approachable and listen to them. He has not only taught me how to lead my business, but even though I achieved one of my goals, nothing stopped me in reaching other goals. I strive to not only be a good leader but also to improve my own knowledge. In this manner I can help my business gain greater success. Having him as my mentor has definitely prepared me in building my own independent business.

 

Developing one’s self

A mentor prepares and helps you to not to make the same mistakes, but rather improving yourself in your business. Being part of the Virtual Assistant (VA) world, showed me that having a mentor is an important aspect in developing one’s self. Without this knowledge, it would not have been easy to start my VA career. In my life I have had many mentors. Each of them had an impact on my life. Amongst all of these people, only a few revealed to be true mentors.  Working with all of these different people, I gained enough knowledge and experience to distinguish who I would like to be associated with. Abe is always open to answering questions.  He shows patience and open mindedness and tries to put himself in someone else’s shoes when questions are being asked.

Although being a renowned winemaker, and probably knowing everything that needs to be known to be a good winemaker, he still attends conferences, workshops and lectures to widen and improve his knowledge. He believes in constantly upskilling yourself.

 

Influencing the people around you

Having said all of this, each person chooses their own mentor. You as a person needs to decide what you want to achieve and how you want to be seen, in a business or social environment. When I started, I decided that I want to have a positive and encouraging effect on people’s lives. I realised that my previous mentors could not teach me in a way to successfully achieve this goal. That is why I decided to follow Abe’s lead. Having a mentor like him and achieving my goals, I can also strive in being a mentor to someone else. At the end of the day you will never know if you are someone’s mentor, but by exhibiting integrity, responsibility and positivity you can make a positive change in someone’s life.

In bringing this together I decided to take these words from this Franchise Growth Partners blog,  it perfectly summarizes the person I want to be in business and personally.  It starts with a choice to be the person you want to be:

Be willing to share skills, knowledge, and expertise. Always demonstrate a positive attitude.  Always try to take a personal interest in the mentoring relationship and exhibit enthusiasm in your profession.  Try to provide guidance and constructive feedback so that you can be respected by colleagues and employees in all levels of the organization. Lastly value the opinions and initiatives of others and motivate by setting a good example.

Miro versus Smartsheet:   which is the best collaboration tool for a Virtual Assistant?

Miro versus Smartsheet: which is the best collaboration tool for a Virtual Assistant?

When working as a Virtual Assistant, the different online and digital tools that you use are really important.  You make use of various different tools and you depend on them a lot as well, to make your work environment better and easier.   I use quite a few myself, I depend on them to help me get my work done.  If I think back, to before I started working as a VA, I did not even know about 20% of the online tools that are out there.  And I still come across many that are new to me.

If I can name and compare two of these tools, it would be Miro and Smartsheet.   If you look at the general opinion of users on the internet, it seems like Miro is a bit more popular than Smartsheet.

Let’s look at a few pro’s and con’s of these two tools.

 

Miro

Miro is a whiteboard platform where the whole team can come together simultaneously on the same ‘page’ and work on one project at the same time.  It is an online, visual collaboration white boarding platform to create, collaborate, and centralize communication across your company on a single online whiteboard.

“It enables distributed teams to work effectively together, from brainstorming with digital sticky notes to planning and managing agile workflows.”

Pro’s

  • The team can add spreadsheets and start discussions while they are working.
  • Just like sitting around the table in a virtual boardroom, the app is really easy to use.
  • You can use different apps, like Dropbox and Google drive directly from within the Miro platform,
  • Can sign up for free, it is more cost effective

Con’s

I was not able to find a lot of con’s, which gives me an overall good impression of Miro.

  • The mobile version performs smooth, but works only for visualization
  • Nothing comes to mind, if there was one thing it would be that the export viewport thing is a bit hard to get

 

Smartsheet

It is a cloud based platform, that enables teams and organisations to plan, capture, manage and automate and report on work.

Pro’s

  • Reporting is another important capability of Smartsheet. The reports of the software are very flexible and can be focused on the tasks per member, such as overdue tasks, and others.
  • Smartsheet has a good file storage system.  You are able to store files without leaving the app to access another app.
  • Team members can collaborate and report on what they are working on in real-time, manage their tasks, and automate their workflows.

Con’s

  • It is pricey
  • There is a lack of a time tracking feature
  • There is a lack of a practical activity stream

 

When you are looking for an online tool to use, the best option would be to do your research first, before choosing one.  There are so many out there, and they all have really good features and benefits.  Look at a few and decide on the one that would work the best for the specific needs you have.

These tools make our lives so much easier!

Perfect balance for your mind, body and soul

Perfect balance for your mind, body and soul

Healthy body = Healthy mind. Healthy mind = Healthy body.

Seems so simple doesn’t it?  And yet keeping a balance between body and mind can be quite challenging. Bring in the third element – soul – and we find ourselves in a whole new ball game. Our mind, bodies and souls are the 3 cornerstones of our existence. One cannot exist without the other and if these are not in harmony, we find ourselves unbalanced. I like to visualize them in a circle, so that I see a rolling, continuous cycle, all interleading into each other. One will always be on the top whilst you give your time and energy to it, and then will move onto the next and the next, picking up the energy and momentum and keeping it flowing, filtering energy and positivity into each one. If positivity is what you choose.

We live in an era where stress is a huge part of our daily routines, especially now in this new world we live in. The pressure of simple daily tasks can seem unsurmountable, leaving us nowhere near a healthy mind, body, or soul, especially if the situation is the same day in and day out, with no definitive end.

 

Finding your balance

You can change this by completing the mind-body-soul circle. Make a concerted effort to change, starting with one of these three areas. Maybe you only need to work on one. Now is a good time to start and carry through into our lives once we go back to whatever the new normal is going to be.

Be kind to yourself. Remember that you might not get it right every day, that is not the victory. The victory is that you keep trying and don’t give up. This is a journey you will be on for the rest of your life and every small win is a win!

 

Mind

The mind is incredibly powerful! One has to be so careful on what you allow it to do. This all depends what you feed it. As powerful as it is, you are still in control. Unless you are consciously aware of this, it could control you. There have been thousands of case studies and theories on the power of the mind. To uncomplicate things, keep it simple. Don’t consume all your energy on negative thoughts, especially those you are not able to control. If you are consumed by something, ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to change the situation? If not, let it go. This takes practice. When we practice noticing our thoughts and letting go, we engage in a powerful habit, leading to peace and ultimately a better-balanced life.

I am trying a new technique, which may work for you too. When I find my thoughts racing and out of control, I force my mind to envision a bright ball of energy. (This is used in Qigong Yoga) and nothing else. I imagine this to be my safe zone, my go to place, and I try and feed my mind off this positive space. You could also try a happy place – a special place in your mind that you love being in and sit there quietly. Calming your thoughts and taking back control of your mind.

Taking control of your mind one step at a time can be incredibly liberating! If you do not like what you are thinking you need to change what you are planting.

An old Chinese proverb captures the power of our thinking in shaping our lives:

  • Sow a thought and reap an act
  • Sow an act and reap a habit
  • Sow a habit and reap a character
  • Sow a character and reap a destiny

 

Health

Exercise for some may be hard, for others it is easy, and they can’t imagine their lives without it. They may have an advantage here, as the benefits of exercise have been proven time and time again. For those not on their side of the fence, what I am suggesting is that you start off slow, no pressure, don’t even set a target. Just experiment and find what you enjoy. Experiment with Yoga, with Pilates, with Qigong, Zumba, Barre (ballet-inspired fitness class) boxing, the list is endless, or the more traditional running, walking, swimming, or cycling. Due to health reasons I have had to stop running and focus more on strengthening. I miss the runners high but am now enjoying the feeling of being stronger and this has opened my eyes to another world connecting me to focused breathing, control, and the power of the mind, interlinking the mind, body, and soul trinity.

A good diet is essential, I’m sure you can all attest to the fact that over the past few weeks working from home has not helped the diet, this is where having a healthy mind is going to come in – willpower. We really are what we eat. We are all aware of the benefits of healthy food. Try and remember them.

 

Feed your soul

When I pray for my 4-year-old son, I pray for protection of his mind, body, and soul as I think of his future and what may lie ahead in all 3 of these aspects. Whoever you may or not pray to, believe, or not believe in, guard your heart and soul. Feed it to grow and prosper whatever this may mean to you. There is no one rule fits all here, only you know what your soul needs and what makes it happy.  Know your worth. If you need coaching or counselling in areas where you think you need this, reach out and get the help to be the perfect version of you.

A happy version. A healthy version. The best version!

How to gain a new perspective

How to gain a new perspective

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.  Dr Wayne Dyer

Wise words from a great man and of extreme relevance in this current situation in which we find ourselves.  An unsettling time of unchartered territory where we feel that we are standing in the corridor, waiting for a door to open, revealing the new way of life into which we will emerge.

COVID 19 has affected every one of our daily lives in many ways, and none have remained untouched.  Our lives are no longer the same and this brings about opportunities for self-introspection and evolvement.  We need to start looking at things differently, with fresh eyes, from a new angle, in other words, gain a new perspective.   It can make the acceptance of our new way of life an easy transition.

 

What is perspective?

Perspective is the way we see life through our filters.  A skill that we use to navigate our path, adding to our ever-growing subconscious library of reference.  As humans, we have feelings and emotions associated with our experiences according to our make-up.  Our view of one situation may be completely different from another person, yet both entirely correct as seen from their perspective.

 

Where to begin?

As with anything we wish to change, the first steps are recognition, acceptance and willingness to change. So, take a step back.  Try to look at the situation objectively, as if you were a by-stander and do not allow your emotions to take over.  If we observe from the outside, we can start to see it with fresh eyes, expand our thinking and bring in some new possibilities we may be willing to try. Decide on what you want to change and give it a go.

 

Some tools you can use

Sound too easy? I agree that sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees when you are in the situation, and at times there doesn’t seem to be a solution at hand besides the only one you can see.  Take some time to sit with yourself in reflection and try one or two of the following methods.

  1. Questioning – Ask a couple of people for their perspectives or solutions and ponder over them, trying to see things from a different angle.
  2. Meditation – find a quiet place or time and go into deep thought around the subject. Note afterwards any changes you may have discovered.
  3. Journaling – write about your thoughts and whatever ideas come into your head as you are doing this. Reflect on your writing afterwards and see if there is another viewpoint you can adopt.
  4. Mind-mapping – either on paper or there are many mind-map apps out there you can explore and use to jot down your thoughts and see how they can expand, open and change.
  5. Do things differently – even if it just starts with the way you approach your chores, your regular routes or your exercise routine. Changing things around physically can help you to shift thought patterns.

 

You have the power

You have the inner power to change how you view things around you, of forming new patterns and looking at life.  It is not about changing who you are, but rather about your expansion and growth, so go ahead and treat yourself to a broadened perspective.

Why should we continue new habits after Lockdown is over?

Why should we continue new habits after Lockdown is over?

The ever-looming word Lockdown has become a daily subject in every household across the world. Many countries have different rules and regulations; however, the end goal is ultimately the same.

Lockdown has forced humanity to change and develop new habits and ways of life. It is said, that on average a new habit takes approximately 21 days to form and integrate into our daily lives. Lockdown for most of us, has resulted in us being confined to our living quarters and has made us readjust our daily routines. Those in essential services are still braving the outside world and the rest of us are staying home and learning to navigate this current lifestyle.

 

Maintaining an optimum level of wellness

We have now seen that we don’t have to physically drive to the gym or sign up for a gym membership to actively exercise. Now we have no reason for excuses. There are many South Africans participating in the Mzansi Lockdown Marathon Challenge, running a total of 42 kilometers in 21 days in their gardens. Friends and family are having virtual exercise sessions together and many are learning new exercise regimes like Yoga.

The bottom line is it should not have taken a worldwide pandemic for some to add exercise to their daily routines. Exercise is vital in achieving an optimum level of wellness. All of a sudden, we find ourselves taken notice of what we eat and consuming copious amounts of vitamins. Eating healthy and making up for nutrients we are lacking in our daily diet is necessary, embrace this new healthy lifestyle and make it your new way of life. Skip the crash diets we all only start because there is a special occasion around the corner. A healthy body results in a healthy mind, so yes add achieving an optimum wellness to your list of new habits to keep.

 

Regular communication with loved ones

We should all ask ourselves why has it taken a pandemic to force so many of us to regularly interact with family and friends? The answer may be one regulation of Lockdown: Social Distancing.

Why is human interaction so important? It is important for our mental health. Social contact helps humans to cope with stress and major life changes. Yes, life gets busy, loved ones move abroad and there isn’t enough time in a day to do all things we want to achieve. Family and friends are our support structure throughout life, and we should ultimately interact and ‘check in’ on one another on a regular basis, regardless if life is looking up or down.

Nowadays, technology offers us so many exciting options to have virtual group interactive sessions like Zoom, Houseparty or WhatsApp. Recent social media trends have shown many of us uploading screenshots of group chats and participants are shown to be sporting big smiles. Make a pact with your family and friends to maintain regular communication after Lockdown, this will strengthen your support structure. Yes, this is added to the list of new habits to keep.

 

Increased cleaning and sanitization standards

Yes, of course we all washed our hands and cleaned our houses before the pandemic. However, the pandemic has once again forced us to increase the extent of any task. I’m sure most of us feel our sanity is slightly questionable, when we are singing Happy Birthday to ourselves in the bathroom mirror for 20 seconds, each time we wash our hands.

The fact of the matter is that our hygiene standards have obviously changed, we shower and launder our clothes excessively. We find ourselves sanitizing doorknobs and light switches on a daily basis and stock piling anti-bacterial detergents each time we see it on the shelf in the Supermarket (admit it, we are all doing it). Is heightened cleaning and sanitization standards an item we should add to the list of new habits we are going to keep? Add it to the list and adapt it to fit your new way of life after Lockdown. Create a weekly cleaning schedule, helping you to keep your home beaming with pride and destroying the pile of laundry you have been dreading all week. A cleaning routine will assist in achieving a peaceful home.

 

Be more sustainable

Lockdown trends have shown so many of us planting our own fruit and vegetables. Being stainable is the future, it is showing our planet how much we care. So, the answer is – absolutely yes, add being more sustainable to our list of new habits we are going to keep. Develop a recycling routine that works for you and your household inhabitants, recycle your fruit and vegetable peels, you can repurpose them as compost. Purchase the extra garbage bins and implement separating and recycling your garbage. Mother nature will thank you!

 

The art of Self-love

What does self-love mean? Self-love is taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. Not settling for less than you deserve. Loving yourself does not mean you think you are the smartest or most beautiful person in the world. Self-love is defined as “love of self” or “regard for one’s own happiness”. Many of us now find we have the extra time on hands to do things we don’t normally have the time or energy for. Many of us are searching for hobbies and skills we can develop to keep us busy or better yet sane. Going forward let us make the time to love ourselves, we only get one life. Yes, we are adding this to our list of new habits to keep. Start out small and progress, schedule that weekly pamper session and wipe the dust off your Grandmother’s sewing machines you have always wanted to learn how to use. Take advantage of this opportunity and make the time to love yourself and develop your portfolio of skills.

 

Why?

Why should we continue these new habits even after Lockdown is over and this pandemic has ended? We only have one life and we should give it everything we have! Make the time, make the effort, life is short. Appreciate the small things in life, like freedom, you never know when it might be taken away, even if it is just temporarily. Adapt your new habits to life after Lockdown and be the person you have always strived to be, but never had the time to become, your time is now!