Speed mentoring provides benefits of experience

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Heather Heiney
  • 81st Training Wing PUblic Affairs
I sat down across from a complete stranger in a softly lit room and awkwardly attempted to spark up a meaningful conversation.

No, I wasn't on a date -- I was attending a speed mentoring session at the Bay Breeze Event Center Nov. 30.

The event closely resembled speed dating and the idea was to match up senior noncommissioned officers with Airmen for five-minute mentoring sessions.
The most recent group of senior airmen attending Keesler's Airmen Leadership
School compiled a list of possible questions for the leaders but Airmen could
ask anything they'd like to know.

I stepped into the collocated lounge armed with my notebook, a pen and my own list of questions. I had rearranged, reworded and rethought each of my questions obsessively before I pressed the print button. However, as soon as I sat down with my first mentor, the page became blurry. Once I made it through my initial uncertainty and asking questions, the listening part was easy and it seemed as though the bell rang far too quickly. I could have spent hours picking each mentor's brain.

My general approach wasn't to ask the mentors what they thought I should do in my career, but to ask them about their own experiences in the Air Force. I think this is far more useful and genuine than if I asked them to present me with a formula for success.

I loved watching the way their facial expressions changed as they recalled their greatest accomplishments and how they overcame challenges.

A prevalent message I received from the mentors was to seek mentorship throughout your career and be a mentor to other people by making yourself the example.

I also learned that we're all in charge of our own careers and that it's up to each of us to learn as much as we can and share that with those around us.

The final thing that this event made me realize even more that the answer you receive is only as good as the question you ask.