Who do you turn to when you are struggling with something, feel stuck or have questions that don’t yet have answers? Who do you call when you are looking for a way to grow and learn in your personal or professional life? If you are fortunate enough to have a person like that in your life, this person is most likely someone whom you consider to be your mentor.
Mentoring is a two-way street. Just like a friendship, it is relationship that builds over time as you and your mentor get to know one another. What you share together comes from a relationship of mutual respect, listening and reflection.
Finding the right person to be your mentor depends on many different factors: your interests, what you need mentoring in, who this person is, how you establish a connection, and how well your personalities work together, etc. It can take time to find the right person to be your mentor.
When Maryanne and I were getting our business off the ground, we joined a local mentoring business group and two volunteer mentors graciously agreed to work with us. They had a lot of experience and were helpful to us in many ways. However, they came from a very different business background than the business we were establishing, so they referred us to find others to learn from.
We turned to a local group of women, all small business owners, who came together for peer mentoring. Here, we found a connection with this group as we were all going through the same thing—running a small business. We were able to be mentored by them as well as offer some of our skills back to them. We continue to learn from one another and enjoy our connections and friendships.
For the last 2-3 years, we have been working with a mentor whom Maryanne connected with at an out-of-town conference. We were lucky that he turned out to live in our neck of the woods too! When she met Bob (Hi, Bob!), she immediately knew that he was “our kind of person.” He ran similar workshops to the ones we were running, he understood what we wanted to do and why, he had a vast experience and wisdom. We had an immediate connection. Our many conversations over coffee and tea have turned into a very fruitful mentoring relationship.
What makes a good mentor? A mentoring relationship is not one person telling the other what to do. That would certainly backfire, as we as species don’t generally like to be told what to do. Bob often he reminds us that a good mentor is someone who highlights what you cannot see but is present. A true mentor asks questions with empathy and shines the spotlight on what might be lying in the darkness that we are blind to.
How does a mentor do that? Through active listening and reflection (I hear this from you…), asking a question (Have you considered this…?) or offering an experience or information that may be useful to consider. A good mentor invites, doesn’t tell, reflects, and doesn’t judge. He or she also understands that the gift of their time is important, they make time for you.
We are grateful for all the mentoring we have received since we started our business. We know we couldn’t be where we are now, had it not been for those who listened to us and guided us.
We would like to invite you to join us in November for our Let’s Talk Teams Series. This is a focused time to listen, learn, encourage, and mentor one another as team members, team leaders and team wannabes.
For more information and to register, go to: ie3.life/lets-talk-teams
Who do you have in your life that you are currently mentoring, officially or unofficially?
Do you have a person, or a community you are mentored by currently?