Mentoring - It's Not Just For Reality TV Stars

28/01/2011 11:18 | Updated 22 May 2015

Dannii Minogue

Mentoring. You might think it's just for the wannabe singers/chefs/models who flood our nightly TV schedules but I'm here to tell you it can work for you too.

Mentoring doesn't have to be a formal thing. Whether you're going through a tough time in your life, starting a new job or embarking on a new project, just finding someone with experience who has the time to sit down with you and explain some things can be invaluable.

Mentors and role models have always played a significant role in my life. My parents were an important sounding board, especially at the start of my career. I remember them extolling the virtues of a good education - something to fall back on if my dreams fell through. To this day I can hear them telling us: "You never know with this crazy entertainment industry - it might not last."

And now here we are - both Kylie and me. My mum would joke that we got there in spite of their mentoring! The thing is that they taught us we would be in a much better position if we knew we had something to fall back on. Their advice took away that fear and allowed us to pursue our dreams wholeheartedly. We learned that we could have a go and if it didn't work out we would have options, rather than thinking: "Oh my god, if it doesn't work out I have no future!" Can you see how that kind of unconditional support could be of value in your life?

I never thought I'd write a book but talking to the author Kathy Lette, over years of friendship, proved invaluable to me when it came to writing My Story - particularly just before the book was published.

When I emerged from my writer's bubble there was so much to do, so many people getting involved and the deadlines kept changing. I could have thought I was going crazy but I was able to think back to what Kathy had told me and realise that it was all just a normal part of the process. A mentor is there to help ease your passage and bring some perspective to you if you are too close to things.

Simon Cowell mentored me into The X Factor judging role. He advised me to make sure I had an opinion and to be able to explain to anybody, at any time, why that was my opinion. And he told me to take all of my experience, all of the ups and all of the downs, and put it into my mentoring.

He was right. As X Factor judges, I think Cheryl and I mentor in a completely different way from Simon and Louis because they don't know what it's like to stand up there on stage with a microphone in their hand when the lights come on and someone says: "Go".

A good mentor recognises the information that is going to be of value to you, which is why it helps for your mentor to have personal experience when they are advising you. What I try to bring to my X Factor mentees is the stuff I learned years ago in Australia on Young Talent Time every Saturday night: preparing for a live show and the importance of working together with the crew.

If you can't find someone with the right experience and time to mentor you, pick someone you admire in a relevant field and model yourself on them.

I loved Olivia Newton John from the moment I saw her in Grease. The third time we met we were trekking across China raising money to build a hospital for cancer sufferers. She is so beautiful and calm, I just can't describe it - she puts everyone at ease. I admire the way she conducts herself and see her as a role model. She's always very kind and caring and she's had a great career doing stuff she's liked doing.

I've since become an ambassador of her charity - the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre. The hospital is close to where I live and in the last few months a friend of mine was treated there with a life saving operation.

We've only met a few times but I think you can be influenced by someone even if you don't speak to them on a daily basis so, if you can't find a mentor who can give you the time you need, just identify someone that you like and look up to and do as they do. It might not win you a singing contest but it could change your life in uh-mayzing ways!


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