I’m here to speak (well type) briefly about the art of mentorship. Let me first be clear, that mentorship does not have to be a formal process (eg. through an agency, matching process, weekly check-ins etc.). It is actually most often, a natural process between two people and built upon RECIPROCITY. You may not even know that you are a mentor to someone. Be it your younger sister, your brother’s friend’s friend or your co-worker…anyone that you have lent out a hand to is a recipient of your mentorship. But for today’s post, let me take a step back and note some of the interesting misconceptions of mentoring that I have discovered from some of my “qualitative studies”. Some people think that it is a one-sided process, and therefore, think that they cannot commit to being a mentor (due to time constraints and obligations). Others feel that they don’t have a particular skill or talent to teach another individual. And most surprisingly to me, majority of folks have never even considered the possibility of taking on a mentee (but again..maybe you already do!)
Before starting my undergraduate degree in Social Work (3-4 years ago), I decided to jump right in the field and decided to become a mentor for at risk youth. http://www.kidstart.ca/ (A great organization in the lower mainland of Vancouver-to those whom are interested). This was a great experience for me; even as a young 20 year old who at the time, felt completely lost and inexperienced in life. Although internally I felt like I didn’t have too much to offer this kid, through her eyes, it was a different story. To her, I was “the coolest”; I was knowledgeable in how to navigate a computer with my eyes closed, knew the latest hip hop songs and went to university….oh, and I could lip sync to any Britney Spears song- the true selling point. My point in sharing this ….is this: the small things are everything. Every experience you have had, professionally or personally is something that someone would wholeheartedly benefit from hearing about. Now don’t get me wrong, you need to choose your target audience appropriately. The ins and out about the role of an accountant will simply bore a teenage girl who aspires to be a chef. But even still perhaps, through all your business dinners, you know some of the best chefs in the city. Could you possibly make that connection for this young person in front of you? It’s not hard, but depends on your mindset and view of mentorship.
There is always someone who can use your help-whether your broke or rich, depressed or too happy, obese or skinny, unemployed or a workaholic (you get the gist)…you still have something to give. Don’t think that you have to wait for a fancy title on your business card, credentials behind your name or a mind-blowing life experience to qualify you as a mentor. Your perfect and more then qualified as you-right now.
Here is your homework: Take out a pencil and paper and jot these things down.
1) make a list of the 3 hardest things you have had to overcome thus far in life
2) make a list of 3 of your greatest achievements.
3) make a list of 3 individuals around you who could use your guidance/support
4) make a list of 3 individuals who have been your unforgettable mentors to this day.
Use 1-3 as a starting point and connect the dots. You know what to do. (If you don’t, I am always here to consult with!)
As for number 4, email them and let them know that they made it onto your list. They made it unto your top three and I think that is an achievement worth communicating, no?
Thanks for reading.