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Have you been telling yourself “Mentoring sounds nice, but I am not a big shot corporate success story… what do I have to offer?” Let me tell you a story.
About a year ago, I overheard two Hispanic men on the subway having a conversation in Spanish. One appeared to be in his 70s while the other was perhaps in his 30s. The older gentleman was listening empathetically as the younger man talked about how unhappy he was at work job and how a friend in the same boat approached him about starting a business together. “He wants me to do this thing with him”, the young man explained, “I don’t know if that is the right thing to do. I mean, I’ve never run a business before. I suppose I should, but I can’t afford to lose money right now. And what if it doesn’t work?…and our friendship; doesn’t that put strain on it?” He went on and on, practically convincing himself he should not consider the opportunity after all.
The idea of a “network of mentors” is an alternative to the traditional practice of having one primary mentor-protégé connection. Here are some things to think about to help integrate mentorship in your life:
1. Identify your strongest skills (financial literacy, sports, career coaching, etc).
2. Think about what type of mentor role you would like to play. For example, do you want to be:
a. A sounding board for ideas and concerns
b. An advisor to identify career-related skills, interests and values
There are many types of mentoring programs out there; from informal to formal programs, one-on-one to group-based and from school to career-based. With a little digging, you could easily find a program that fits your personal style, time-constraints and best utilizes your forte to benefit a younger person.
Here are a few formal mentorship program suggestions to get you started:
The Columbia Mentorship Program for Entrepreneurs (CMPE) links committed Columbia Business School student entrepreneurs with seasoned members of the School’s entrepreneurial community. Mentors will provide support, guidance, and concrete assistance on a one-on-one basis, to support students in the launch of their own business.
No one would argue that the value of a mentor is immeasurable when it comes to a younger person’s learning, but you may be asking yourself, “How would the act of mentoring specifically enrich my life?”
Consider these seven ways mentoring contributes to your personal development:
1. Mentoring provides you with a sense of self gratification.
Mentoring simply feels good. It is very rewarding to know your insight made a difference and had a positive impact on someone’s professional and personal development. And when you feel good, you open yourself to other good things in your life.
One of things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy
is doing things for other people. ~ Dick Gregory
I believe that accepting a new perspective can alter the world around us: our thoughts create our reality. Take a moment to think about that. This is something I feel strongly about. In fact, my life’s credo is “conscious thought creates reality.” It is a life principle I keep in the forefront of my mind, especially in times of uncertainty.
Forms of Mentoring
In an earlier blog, I described mentoring as a developmental partnership that offers you an outlet to channel some of the incredible knowledge you have gathered throughout the years to benefit the growth of a younger person.
Am I Ready to Mentor?
Are you ready and willing to mentor? Ask yourself the following questions to ensure that you are prepared to be a mentor:
Do I like young people and have a genuine interest in their development?
I think if you've made it this far in considering the idea of mentoring, most likely there's a place in your heart for young people.
The power of words is undeniable. They have the ability to motivate us into action, set that fire in our belly and help us to strive for excellence. Here is a collection of some of my favorite quotes that speak to me about mentoring and mentorship:
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. ~ John Wesley
What is a Mentor? Mentor Definition.
What is a mentor? One of the definitions on mentor I like for its clarity comes from the Encarta dictionary, which reads a mentor is an experienced adviser and supporter; somebody, usually older and more experienced, who advises and guides a younger, less experienced person.
When looking for a mentorship program that fits your interests and availability, it's important to find out as much as you can about the mentorship program before making a commitment. Here's a list of questions you might want to explore with a prospective mentorship program.
What are the specific requirements of a mentor in your program, such as: the length of commitment, number of hours per week/month, and types of activities expected?