Now that the 2018 UK summer is officially over, I find myself reflecting on a few of its highlights and lowlights. One area which arguably falls within either of this category is the ITV phenomenon, Love Island 2018. According to popular press, more than 85,000 people applied to be on this year’s show, compared with the 37,000 people who applied to do an undergraduate degree at Oxford and Cambridge combined. It also had its highest viewing ratings ever. Whereas some people pointed to this as a damning indictment of a lack of aspirations on the part of today’s young people, I preferred to see it as evidence of our desire to achieve something, be someone and also have role models whom we can relate to. So, casting aside my usual snobbery against reality shows that don’t have Ant and Dec as hosts, I tuned into the last 2 weeks of the 8 week saga and was hooked.
As human beings, we all crave connection especially with people who “look” like us in terms of physicality, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. When these people are successful or have certain attributes of success which we desire, we see them as role models – people whose achievements we want to aspire to and /or surpass. On the most basic level therefore, role models provide a critical service to us all. They serve to re-programme our minds from our baggage of faulty and negative beliefs (“I can’t”; “This is impossible”; etc etc) and open our minds to the possibilities of what can be. This service is not to be under estimated for we all hang unto our heavy loads that state that we are incapable of doing, achieving or realising ambitious dreams and goals… for a variety of reasons such as :
- Our family told us so
- Our teachers (and exam grades) told us so
- We do not have the right family connections
- We are too different or not mainstream enough
Like a computer system with a default programme, we allow all these messages and beliefs to go into our brains and affect our self-image and how we see and feel about ourselves …. until we see people who “look” like us achieving those things that we thought were impossible for people like us. Automatically, these people become our role models. If we are lucky enough to meet them and ask for their help, they coach and mentor us to see our talents and to question and destroy our faulty programming. They help us to achieve our ambitions.
BUT it is vital that we choose the right or most appropriate role models and for the right reasons.
I am one of the team of volunteer Route2Success (R2S) role models for the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) – a charity organisation that inspires 12 – 24 year-old men and women of BAME backgrounds (i.e. non mainstream) to dismantle obstacles and embrace the exhilaration and breathlessness that come with working to excel and achieve their dreams. Working with my R2S colleagues over the summer, I co-facilitated two Education, Work and Business workshops at a London High School for a cohort of 20 x year 7 girls aged between 11 – 12 years old.
Their teachers had thoughtfully recommended these girls as candidates to benefit from a group coaching and mentoring session. The girls on the other hand arrived with mixed feelings at the start of the sessions: suspicious of our intentions (why me? ), excited when they realised that the coaching was confidential and gave them an opportunity to speak their minds and, challenging because they really did speak their minds!
Above all, they were all engaged and by the end of the sessions, they were open to new ways of seeing their talents, skills, education and career possibilities. Their feedback below, speaks for itself and is a testament to the positive impact that the right coach and mentor can do.
- All of the girls completed the self-evaluation form:
- 50% of the girls rated the session a 10 out of 10,
- 31% rated the session a 9 out of 10,
- 12% rated the session a 8 out of 10,
- 7% rated the session a 7 out of 10.
- Most of the girls felt that their academic and employment skills, knowledge and ability had improved from the first session:
- 50% of the students said that their confidence in their academic abilities had improved after attending the sessions.
- 50% of the students said that after attending the sessions they were more organised for school.
- 46% of the students said that they found it easier to communicate with their teachers after attending R2S coaching and mentoring sessions.
- 73% of the students said that they felt more confident in knowing what skills and qualifications employers look for when employing someone after attending the R2S sessions.
- 40% of the students said that after attending the sessions they feel that their team work skills have improved.
- 33% of the students said that after attending the sessions they feel more confident and have a sense of what they want to achieve in the future.
- 27% of the students said that after attending the sessions they felt more equipped with the knowledge about how to achieve their life goals.
- 93% of the students said that they were more likely to stay on to further education after attending the sessions.
- 87% of the students said that after attending the sessions they felt more confident about their future.
- Sample Comments:
- “These sessions made me feel more confident and I know more about my career” – Miss H
- “I really enjoyed these sessions, they were fun and inspiring” – Miss A
- “They need to come back and do more” – Miss R
- “They were helpful and encouraging” – Miss S
- “I feel extremely happy that I attended” – Miss Sa
- “I feel confident and more secure about myself” – Miss I
- “I sort of have an idea about how I can achieve my goal but I’m not 100% sure what I want to do” Miss L
- “I loved the sessions and hope to see them again and gain a little bit more confidence” Miss Sv
- “This is my first session and I find it very educational and I would recommend it to my sister who is coming soon” Miss Si
- “R2S has really set a guidance on how I should achieve what I want” Miss B
- “I think that this has made me look at the bigger picture” Miss C
We all need role models, coaches and mentors. The question is, who is yours …and why?