Be a Mentor
You've worked hard all your life to get where you are today. And along with the gray hairs and wrinkles you've managed to learn a good bit about how the world really works. Perhaps more then you even realize. Don't let the wisdom you earned go to waste.
What if you could, with hardly any effort on your part, share what you've learned with others at the start of their professional life? What if you could help them avoid the mistakes you made, or, more importantly, help them realize the joy of success that you've attained?
Isn't it time you passed on something to the next generation? In the past, you may have received good mentoring from someone and never had a chance to show your gratitude directly. This is an opportunity to reciprocate in the most meaningful way possible.
Mentoring is, of course, primarily to the benefit of the mentee, the person receiving the advice and guidance, but you may be surprised at how much you can learn and grow in the process. Mentors not only improve their own satisfaction with life, taking pride in their influence, but they also revitalize themselves through their mentee. And what better way to demonstrate that your own success was not mere luck than by guiding others to a similar success?
As a mentor you can:
- Work with people from different contexts, backgrounds, and cultures.
- Practice offering constructive feedback that changes lives.
- Generate workable solutions together in a mutually respectful way.
- Advise and support while empowering someone to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own actions and development.
- Become instrumental in the success of others.
- Make the world a better place by leveraging the energy and ambition of the young.
This all takes place in a safe, consensual, and mutually confidential environment.
Psychologist Erik Erikson describes the middle years of life as Generativity vs. Stagnation and Psychologist George Vaillant extends this into the later years of life as Keeper of Meaning vs. Rigidity.
A good mentor possesses the following qualities:
- Willingness to share skills, knowledge, and expertise. A good mentor is willing to teach what he knows and accept the mentee where he currently is in his professional development. Good mentors can remember what it was like when they were starting out in professional life.
- Demonstrates a positive attitude and acts as a positive role model. A good mentor exhibits the personal attributes it takes to be successful. By showing the mentee what it takes to be productive and successful, good mentors are demonstrating the specific behaviors and actions that lead to success in life.
- Takes a personal interest in the mentoring relationship. Good mentors do not take their responsibility as a mentor lightly. He feels personally invested in the success of the mentee. Usually this requires someone who is knowledgeable, compassionate, and possesses the attributes of a good teacher or trainer. Excellent communication skills are also required.
- Exhibits a love of life. Enthusiasm is catching and the mentee wants confidence that the pursuit of his ambitions has meaning and the potential to create a good life for himself and others.
- Values ongoing learning and growth. Mentors are in a position to illustrate how the the world is growing and changing and that even after many years there are still new things to learn. When starting out in a professional life, people want to feel that the time and energy they spend learning, and paying the dues, will be rewarded and will ultimately provide them with satisfaction. Good mentors are committed and are open to experimenting and learning new things, often from their mentee.
- Provides guidance and constructive feedback. One of the key responsibilities of a good mentor is to provide guidance and constructive feedback to their mentee. This is where the mentee will most likely grow the most by identifying their current strengths and weaknesses and learning how to use these to make themselves successful in the field. A good mentor possess excellent communication skills and is able to adjust their communication to the personality style of the mentee. A good mentor will also provide the mentee with challenges that will foster professional development and a feeling of accomplishment in learning.
- Respected by colleagues and acquaintances. Ideally mentees look up to their mentors and can see themselves attaining a simlar level of success. Mentees want to follow someone who is well respected by those they interact with.
- Continues to set and meets ongoing personal and professional goals. A good mentor continually sets a good example by showing how his/her personal habits are reflected by personal and professional goals and overall personal success.
- Values the opinions and initiatives of others. A mentor who values others is also someone who works well in a team environment and is willing to share his/her success. A good mentor appreciates the ongoing effort of the mentee and empowers him through positive feedback and reinforcement.
Being a good mentor is the ultimate success in life.