Leaving The Mediocrity Orbit: Seeking Excellence Through Upskilling and Mentorship

By Goh Shuan Thing

September 2023 FEATURE
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THE SWORN ENEMY of excellence is mediocrity. We may have dreams and aspirations, but the gravitation pull that stems from the fear of failure, complacency or simply the comfort of the status quo can keep us in its orbit. Though we yearn for more, breaking free from the mundane to embrace excellence can be a trial.

Unlike failure, mediocrity keeps one from really moving anywhere at all, manifesting itself through a state of unfulfilled potential; brilliant ideas never see fruition, and dreams lay dormant while one lives day-to-day with no clear purpose or direction, finding comfort in settling for less than full potential.

The Power of Upskilling and Mentorship

Fortunately, there are ways to remedy this “ailment”. One of them lies in upskilling and mentorship. The transformative process of learning and acquiring new skills can push us out of jadedness. Mentorship, meanwhile, offers opportunities for a paradigm shift, opening our eyes to possibilities that may be what we need to transcend the mediocrity orbit.

By investing time and effort into acquiring new knowledge and skills (popularly known as upskilling), we equip ourselves to tackle challenges, explore new opportunities and grow personally and professionally. Upskilling empowers us to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving world and opens doors to new horizons we never thought possible. For example, a seasoned graphic designer who has finally decided to enrol in a comprehensive design course may discover a newfound passion for animation and interactive media, leading him to take on projects that require that skill, one that is in higher demand due to the changing needs of the market.

While upskilling provides the knowledge and tools for growth, mentorship acts as a guiding light on the path to excellence. Having a mentor who has walked the same road and overcome similar challenges can make a world of difference. From their experience, mentors can inspire, motivate and offer valuable insights, nurturing our potential and pushing us beyond our limits. An aspiring entrepreneur struggling with self-doubt and uncertainty may need a mentor to provide practical advice and develop business ideas and strategies to propel him toward success.

Dell's MentorConnect Programme: A Journey To Excellence

One mentorship initiative worth highlighting is Dell’s MentorConnect Programme. Designed to empower working professionals through mentorship and upskilling, the programme connects employees from diverse backgrounds, fostering collaboration and growth. It has seen an array of successful mentorships and over 800 mentees since its inception in 2017.

The underlying mission of Dell's MentorConnect Programme is to guide the professional development of team members across participating companies. By broadening the reach and impact of mentorship, the programme fosters a culture of excellence that transcends organisational boundaries.

The MentorConnect Programme runs annually from July to November and is a cohort-based coaching initiative. Each participating company holds five MentorConnect sessions within the same year, creating a dynamic and collaborative learning environment. During these sessions, each company contributes one mentor, who then joins forces with eight to a dozen mentees from different companies.

During the 90-minute to two-hour sessions, the mentors engage with the mentees based on their completed pre-work assignments. Doing this ensures a two-way valuable and meaningful discussion. After all, the heart of Dell's MentorConnect Programme lies in the relationships formed between mentors and mentees.

Mentors are carefully chosen from a pool of accomplished executives, each bringing a wealth of expertise and real-life experiences to share with their mentees. The mentees, on the other hand, come from diverse backgrounds and professions, making the connections even more enriching. This diversity promotes the exchange of different perspectives, ideas and best practices, resulting in a transformative learning experience for all participants.

As mentees grow in confidence and expertise, they bring newfound knowledge and inspiration back to their workplaces, fostering a culture of continuous learning and excellence.

Moreover, the connections forged within the MentorConnect community extend beyond the program’s duration. The network of support and camaraderie among participants persists, encouraging ongoing collaboration and shared growth.

Embracing A Culture of Excellence

In our pursuit of excellence, we often encounter obstacles that threaten to derail us. But with community-driven programmes, scholarships and online learning platforms, the path towards excellence (though laden with distractions that stem from self-doubt and sometimes the impostor syndrome) offers accessible and cost-effective upskilling opportunities. Embracing a growth mindset and seeking support from mentors and like-minded individuals can help us conquer our inner doubts.

Contrary to popular belief, breaking out of the mediocrity orbit is not an individual endeavour but a collective aspiration. Cultivating a culture of excellence within organisations and communities can create a supportive environment where individuals are encouraged to learn, grow and pursue their passions.

By inculcating the values of continuous learning, companies do not only nurture their employees’ talents but also attract and retain top talent. In many ways, it is akin to effective communication, void of unhealthy competition, that creates an unwritten system that thrives on collaboration, uplifting all employees.

Goh Shuan Thing

enjoys helping businesses be heard and stay relevant through creative content strategy. You will occasionally find her lost in alternate realities of her favourite books.