For the last 18 months, I’ve been meeting with my friend and fellow freelancer, Charlie Swift, for regular co-mentoring sessions. Establishing such a supportive, nurturing relationship with another business owner is one of the best things I’ve ever done and it’s definitely something I’d recommend to anyone who’s self-employed, especially if you’re feeling lost, confused, overwhelmed or demotivated.
2016 was a tough year for me, both personally and professionally. My ill health had a huge impact on my ability to work and as the year drew to a close, one of my biggest clients went into administration. I was left with a large unpaid invoice and some serious trust issues. Money was tight and I was beginning to wonder whether my business was viable anymore.
During the Christmas break, I realised I had two options: give up completely or rebuild. I chose the latter, and as we ushered in the new year, I grew more and more determined to make the most of my fresh start.
Around the same time, I read Kristabel’s post about the benefits of a monthly blog meeting and immediately recognised my need for something similar. Back then, my friendship with Charlie was in its infancy, but I knew she was relatively new to freelance life and might be open to the idea.
One evening, while sharing an Uber home, I casually suggested a monthly meet-up of some kind. Charlie was keen, our first session was a success, and here we are a year and a half later!
‘A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.’ — Bob Proctor
What Is Co-Mentoring?
Rather than looking ‘above’ or ‘outside’ your immediate network to find a mentor, co-mentoring is about establishing mutually beneficial learning relationships with colleagues and friends.
For Charlie and me, co-mentoring has seen us supporting one another, facilitating development, and exchanging knowledge and resources. The process is reciprocal and equal, there’s no hierarchy based on experience or perceived success. It’s also friendly, informal, and often fuelled by tea and cake! Most importantly, our meetings are a safe space in which to share the highs and lows of freelance life.
We usually begin with a quick recap of the previous month, addressing any issues or challenges we’ve faced. We also set quarterly goals and targets together, holding each other accountable during future sessions.
Not convinced? To further illustrate the benefits, here are five things I’ve gained from co-mentoring…
A Source of Inspiration and Advice
Perhaps the most obvious and abundant benefit of co-mentoring! From her beautiful, creative Instagram feed to her encyclopaedic knowledge of podcasts, Charlie brings so much value to my life. If Tony Robbins is right and we are who we surround ourselves with, I’ve picked a good’un!
I love the way Charlie encourages and motivates me and repaying the favour feels good too. Sharing our goals and confiding in each other means we’ve become invested in one another’s achievements. I celebrate Charlie’s wins as much as my own and she’s always the first to congratulate me when something goes well.
A Second Opinion
Seeking a second opinion from a co-mentor is a great way to disrupt your usual patterns of thinking and find new ways of doing things. Bouncing ideas around with someone who understands my business and my goals has been invaluable. I’ve learned to trust Charlie’s judgement and embrace the opportunity to look at things from a different perspective.
Although I excel at meeting other people’s expectations, I often struggle with self-imposed targets and goals. Knowing Charlie will be checking in, tracking my progress and holding me accountable has been a massive help.
A Confidence Boost
Answering questions, sharing knowledge and recounting past experiences reveals just how much you already know. As someone who struggles with self-doubt on a daily basis, offering Charlie useful insights and practical advice has boosted my confidence and helped me recognise my strengths.
- Have you ever considered co-mentoring? Charlie and I have gained so much from our sessions, we’re hoping to transform some of our conversations into a podcast series. Watch this space!
Love Audrey xxx