Honestly, I never knew mentoring could be this good. Oh sure, I have been coached and mentored. I have even raised and mentored my kids and supported their friends through the maturing process. With all of that, I am still surprised at the current level of joy I am experiencing as my new role of mentor unfolds within my business. I have trained many in my trade. I have had such a rewarding experience teaching and supporting individuals as part of a “job.” Mentoring is different.
As a woman painting subcontractor in a traditionally man’s world of construction, I felt isolated. I only knew of one or two other women who were in different trades. Over the years, I have run into a female plumber and a tile setter, but that was it. I suspected there had to be more of us!
Today, my painting crew consists of 50% women. They have come to me not from any sort of advertising or outreach, but through some sort of energetic understanding that they are welcome here and that together we can elevate our trade. My upbringing was one where I helped my Dad do a lot of the ‘manly’ chores around the house and I loved it! It was my Dad who instilled a team spirit, critical thinking, and a strong sense of capability. Recently, I heard of a program that spoke to middle school girls and taught them grit, resilience, collaboration and empowerment through skills like welding, building, using power tools. This program spoke deeply to me and inspired me. I wanted to do something like that and I realized that it could be done right in my own company.
I called my women crew members together. At our first meeting, I explained my purpose to the group and it was met with eagerness and candor. I asked them to choose a name or identity and stated that our meetings would be devoted to skill building, connection and communication. What they said they wanted was ‘what I knew’. That meant creative skills and confidence in leadership. They chose Realizados Suenos, as it speaks to the hope of increased confidence on the job and willingness to learn! And so, Team Realizados Suenos – Dreams Realized – was born.
As a team, we select a monthly lead instructor from within the group who would guide us in learning specific skill sets. Topics available cover the proper use of a spray rig, proper prep cycles for a high level paint job, decorative stenciling, color mixing, Venetian plaster application, and some of the more specialized skills that will give them an edge on the job and in commanding better pay. The lasting impact I dream of for them is self reliance, confidence in the face of diversity and adversity, and a different outlook for what’s possible for them, not only in the trades, but in life!
Turns out that “Dreams Realized” was not just for us as a team – it was for our daughters, too. Our intention is to expand and support our young women to explore all the trades, not just painting. We are currently establishing our process as an adult group, and hope to offer this to middle and high school girls one day. I have discovered at this stage of my life and career, mentoring is deeply gratifying and it is the best gift I can ever bestow upon my team.