I often find it difficult to find the words to adequately explain the real power of our circles.

This arrived in my inbox this morning, from a women in an Australian Government Department whose Mentoring Circle program has finished after 12 months. She describes her journey below.

I hope it brings a smile to your face

Testimonial from ‘Liz, APS6, Canberra’

The very first session I was very unsure what to expect and what I wanted to achieve by coming. My anxiety was high and I arrived right on the 1 pm on the dot.  Sarah had started the mediation… she said for future reference if late wait outside, I was so embarrassed. I thought I cannot do this, and I wanted to leave.

I could have let this moment in time dictate the rest of the program, but I didn’t want to waste this experience and as the afternoon went on I could feel a wave of calm over me, I felt like there was an opportunity for me to grow, to be a better version of myself whatever that looked like….. So the next month I came back, I was early in attendance and open to dig deep into myself.

I would say that at work I was lost within my department’s walls, I felt undervalued and stupid and questioned why they hired my own abilities and me. I think my response to attending the first Circle was heightened because I did not see my self-worth. I was not sure what my purpose was, and I think I was close to resigning from the APS, honestly.

I felt I was incompetent in terms of working in the public service and this was highlighted when I moved to this department. I didn’t know how to play the game, organisational savvy was limited and promoting myself and my abilities unclear. I felt I had no influence and could not ask for what I wanted. Learning what my Myers Briggs type was a game-changer for me, to see how to interpret my personality type and how I can work with others that are different to me was a really powerful tool, as was the Q model that showed what I needed to work on.

Over the 12 months that followed doing the mentoring circle with Sarah, I gained confidence within myself, I wanted to throw everything I could at developing myself to go along with the work we were doing in the circles. I feel like I was becoming a stronger woman, at home as a mum and wife and at work, I am finding my place, slightly disjointed but not unhappy. From a personal level, I started to take myself seriously for the first time. I am worthy of the work and effort if I am willing to do it. This program has allowed me to see the value in myself. I started to show up at work with more confidence and empowered to share my knowledge and learn from others.

I got the courage to ask to be part of numerous projects within the branch to gain practical knowledge and influence people from a non-technical perspective. I have reached out to people to build relationships and put myself in places that make me uncomfortable. I have been open and honest about some of my weaknesses and asked for what I needed from others to complete tasks.

This program gave me the tools and the confidence to reflect on myself and how I can develop, grow, and contribute without losing my sense of self. I have learnt that I am unique and not everyone appreciates that, but I actually relish in the fact that I am different. I have learnt that I need to feel fulfilled at work; I want to help people and make deep connections. I want to make a difference and influence others through mentorships and kindness. I have also made a stronger connection to myself and my inner knowing and intuition. I think for so long I have tried to squeeze myself into places that I do not fit, but I now know I do not want to fit. By being me, I can fulfil my destiny.

I am not sure what the future holds for me but I do know that I am more content in my work now and not feeling as wobbly. I am still searching for something as my knowing is speaking to me louder than ever after finishing this program that there is something more out there for me, I just need to be vulnerable and brave enough to find it.

Thank you, Sarah, for your ability to be inclusive to each person and your amazing abilities to bring the room back to the topic when we go off track.

The program for me was very helpful in me being more confident in my role at work, but it actually helped transform my life.