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Summary: Mentoring what is it all about, learning, teaching, being part of a community that learns from others. This is an introduction to our next series.

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Let me tell you a bit of a story!

When I was a young bloke I decided I needed a way to make a living so I did what was the usual back in the day and looked in the paper and applied for a few jobs, well quite a few. I finally got this job as an apprentice electrician.

The truth of the whole thing was I’d left school with the ability to read and write and a couple of bits of paper that said I could, I was not much of a scholar, in fact my opinion was that the best part of school was lunch and knock off time, both things that I excelled in.

So I started in the electrical trade and I started to learn, I learnt all sorts of useful things, things like wearing overalls, steel cap boots and safety glasses, driving the van, painting substation buildings, getting morning tea, getting pies and cream buns for lunch, picking up the fish and chips for Friday lunch, drilling holes, carrying stuff from the van to the boss and back to the van, I learnt various parts of the English language that I’d never heard before, I learnt about banking my money and once I’d started polytechnic I started to learn some theory and regulatory stuff that related to the electrical trade.

I learned how to apologise to customers for drilling up the outside of the wall chewing up the carpet and wall paper with my drill bit and not the inside of the wall, I learnt how to weld copper, I learnt how to drill holes in copper 1500 of them at a time, I learnt how to sweep the floor, wash the van, dig holes and play euka ( card game). I found out all sorts of stuff about life in general, old blokes war records, other guys views on politics, cars, women, marriage, religion, the Thatcher intervention in the Falkland Islands, how not to blow yourself up while draining LPG from a vehicle or earthing a power line or working on live electrical equipment or working with solvents…I learnt all sorts of useful stuff.

I guess that I had to be willing though to learn and someone or in my case a whole lot of someone’s had to be willing to teach me.

There was blokes like Pete the Painter who taught me how to paint substations, Kimo who taught me how to play cards when we should have been maintaining substations, Stan who gave me one of the best bit’s of advice, “get a home ownership account”, Graham and Neville the polytechnic tutors who taught me how to sit exams and pass as well as some fairly useful trade stuff and Eric Brown who taught me about accountability when he made me apologise to the lady whose wall I drilled up the outside of when I thought I could pass that buck to him.

All these people in some way assisted me in my life journey and my journey towards being an electrician and after four years from when I had started out knowing nothing about being an electrician, I was one and I could even spell it.

I’ve found in life that some people once they have left school give up on taking note of what others tell them, maybe because they found the whole experience of schooling a bit of a drag and lacking in freedom, I noticed some even gave up learning at school.


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