Yoda, Mr. Miyagi, Dumbledore… those names likely conjure up a specific image, but guess what - today we are not talking about movies, we're talking about mentors!
Similar to coaches and teachers, mentors guide less-experienced people through the learning process by establishing trust and modelling positive behaviours. Informal mentorships may just involve calls, texts or emails to your mentor from time to time when you need guidance. Formal mentorships will often have defined agendas that detail specific dates and times you plan to meet. What you choose depends on what suits your situation.
Here’s why you’ll want one:
Because they’ve already been through it, mentors provide advice on issues like how to save money, reduce stress, and be more efficient, for example, and they'll easily be able to connect their experiences with your own. Similarly with issues surrounding career development, communication and etiquette - they'll likely have learned a lot from their own struggles and can save you facing difficulty in the same way.
Mentors offer constructive feedback designed to strengthen areas of your life that need improvement. Let’s face it - we all have blindspots! This will be more than simply pointing out the flaw though. A good mentor will be able to identify a problem area, communicate it to you in a well thought out way, and likely suggest ways in which you can improve.
Once you’ve experienced life with a mentor, you’ll often want to share your own experiences with other people. Oftentimes, that makes you a better leader and gives you new perspectives on life. Even if you don't go on to mentor someone else, learning through someone else's mistakes means that you're free to make new and different ones. Mentorship will more than likely open up doors to you that you might not have ever even considered.
My quick tips today are - start thinking about who could be a potential mentor. A senior colleague or leader in the office, a knowledgable contact in a similar field, or even a friend of a friend. And remember, their time is important too, so come prepared. It can’t be a one-way relationship. Consider whether there's anything immediately that you'd like to work towards, or whether this particular individual is especially knowledgable in a certain field.
Who knows, perhaps you know a thing or two and you can both learn from each other!