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The Joy of Mentoring

Last week I received a lovely letter from a student who was completing a Black History Month project and she asked whether I could be the subject – so humbling – I felt absolutely honoured, and it got me thinking about mentoring.

 

Everyone knows that having a good mentor is vital for success in your career. We know we need them, and we probably have a pretty good idea of who we’d choose if we had the chance. The moment when we move from student to teacher is a life-changing experience.

I’ve had the opportunity to mentor throughout my radio career and I can tell you that it’s magical. To teach someone is to remember what made you do what you do in the first place. And then to see someone spread their wings and become successful? There is no better feeling. 

Congratulations on getting top marks for your project Bella!

Why mentor? 

 

Sharing your knowledge might seem like nothing but work. I mean look… don’t we already have enough to do? The home/work balance? The raising of the children? Yes, yes, yes… all of these things take up time. But mentoring is a gift that gives back to YOU. Giving guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling provides a mentor with an entire new toolkit and a new direction professionally.

So exactly what do mentors get out of this? Aside from the gratification of seeing someone you’ve helped go on to succeed in their career. What really motivates great leaders to share their hard-earned secrets with someone else?

  • You’ve reached a milestone in your career.

  • Someone actually WANTS to learn from you and/or be like you.

  • It takes maturity, empathy and yes… courage.

  • Improves your communication and leadership skills.

  • It will remind you of what’s important in your field and expand your self reflection.

  • Generate more connections and professional relationships with others in your area of expertise.

What does it take to be a good mentor?

  • Ability and willingness to communicate what you know.

  • Preparedness.

  • Approach-ability, availability, and the ability to listen.

  • Honesty with diplomacy.

  • Inquisitiveness.

  • Objectivity and fairness.

  • Compassion and genuineness.

How do you choose a mentor?

Good mentors don’t take what they do lightly. They’re invested in the success of the person they’re helping. This requires someone who is knowledgeable, compassionate, and patient. Find someone you want to emulate.

The right person, in the right place. Choose someone who has the title, position or experience you’re hoping to achieve in the next few years. Ideally, you want to be exactly where they are someday. Don’t be discouraged if you’re turned down, it’s better to have someone be forthright about their time restraints. You’ll find the right fit for you if you keep looking.

There’s a right way to ask, and a wrong way. Always ask someone to be your mentor in person. I know it’s tempting to text or email, it’s the world we live in now. However, speaking face to face with someone is a vital part of mentoring. In order to get the most out of a mentoring relationship, asking in person is super important. It shows that you “get it” and that you really mean it.

Once you’ve found them, make the most of your mentor. Take the advice you get. This sounds silly but you would be amazed at how many people get wonderful advice and then do the opposite. There’s a reason that you picked this person… you want what they have. If you think there’s a better way then talk to them about it. A good mentor will listen and learn from you too.

 

Do you have a Mentor?  Are you a Mentor?  What do you think of Mentors? How we teach our young people matters… let’s talk about this on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram!

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