The other day a two part question was posed on Linkedin: Why do you mentor other people? What value do you receive? I answered the questioned as follows: “I mentor because I believe in giving back as I was giving to. I mentor because without mentors it’s gonna take us all a lot longer to move forward.” But I have thought about that question a lot since I read it and answered it. I think the better question would have been: How do you mentor?
The reason I like this question better is it gives insight into different methods of mentoring and can give different ideas to those who have either never mentored before because they do not feel comfortable or know what to do, or to those who have mentored for a long time and are looking for fresh ideas to reach a younger audience. What worked in the 1990’s just isn’t working as well today.
By sharing the different styles of mentoring we open up a whole new catalog of methods and means with which to help the next generation of business professionals and entrepreneurs to get to where they need to be more quickly which in turn helps all of us move together in a forward motion at a better clip.
I like to mentor through discussions, questions, examples and by being a role model. I like to be a person that is easy to talk to about any issue someone is facing in their professional life and help them to work toward a realistic, attainable solution. I often have people I have mentored in the past call just to check in, and catch me up on all that they have been doing and then toward the end of the call throw out, “if you have just another minute or two, I’ve been struggle with this or that and I was wondering if I could run it by you?” And, of course I am also ready and available to help no matter how many years have elapsed. Because I will always be his or her mentor and I will always be their friend.
So whether you are a mentor or a mentee, take advantage of this wonderful relationship. I assure you it is not a one-sided affair. You will find that each learns from the other and together both will grow. It is a relationship built on trust and confidentiality that must always be honored. Unless, of course, that is not important to the mentee. If you decide to take on mentoring, it will be one of the more rewarding things you do in your professional life, I highly recommend it. My mentor was my Dad, so I learn from the best, and I do my best to pass on the invaluable business lessons he taught me, plus quite a few of my own.