Friday, February 26, 2016

The Idea of Mentoring

I'm still not used to the idea of being a mentor. Sure, I participate in an
online mentoring program that matches mentees with mentors, and I've got the
leadership pro dev series that we do onboard underway. But, it always takes
me a little by surprise, particularly when I'm talking to young
women/officers, that they will look up to me and value the lessons I've
learned from my experiences.

Then again, it also takes me a little by surprise to remember I have nearly
nine and a half years of sea time, have served on six ships, been CO of two,
and am about to put on CDR! Somehow in my mind, I just started this gig a
couple years ago, and am still learning what I'm supposed to be doing.

I forget that there just aren't that many senior women cuttermen. The ones
we have are great! and I'm definitely grateful to have them as my own role
models, but right now (and I know I risk getting these numbers wrong), I
think there are maybe six female LCDRs or senior serving as CO, XO or
Department Head on major/white hull cutters (I'm not including WLB-225s
here, simply because I don't know much about that community...shame on me)
-- out of a fleet of 37ish (?? -- I can't keep up with the WMSLs coming
on-line and the WHECs getting decom'ed...I'll need to start knowing that
soon enough!) WMSLs, WHECs, WMEC-270s and -210s. If my math is right (and I
make no promises), that's less than seven percent of senior cuttermen jobs
are currently held by women. And I'm one of them. Shit, that's sobering. 

This is not a post to bemoan the fact that there are so few women afloat --
that's a whole 'nother post. This is simply a recognition that I am in an
exceedingly select group, and I am still learning the importance and gravity
of that role. I had an encounter today that very strongly reinforced this
particular lesson, so this idea of mentoring is on my mind.

The "mentoring" I give is mostly storytelling, with a few nuggets or themes
of things that have worked for me or ways of looking at things that make
things make better sense. And most of the time, I just listen and tell them
that being on the vertical part of a learning curve always sucks and that
they're not alone...and that's usually exactly what they need to hear. 

I'll say it again -- what we do is hard. Not everyone can do what we do. But
(for now) I think it's worth it, especially if you can do it well.

One of these days, I'm going to start to compile those lessons learned and
sea stories into something. If nothing else than to just get them out of my

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

No comments: