January is Mentoring Month and tomorrow, January 9th, is I Am A Mentor Day. So I wanted to share some insight on the impactful nature of a mentoring relationship. I have been both a mentee and a mentor. I can tell you from personal experience the power these relationships hold.
Experience vs. Clarity
A true mentoring relationship is not based on age. This is my opinion. I believe this relationship is based on the battle between experience and clarity. Our society teaches us the power of being self-made, but I dont believe there is such a thing.
Weve heard that it takes a village to raise a child. There are studies that tell us that we are the sum total of the experiences we have had, the books we read and the people with which we associate. Basic needs in life have been narrowed down to shelter, food, clothing and being loved. There are so many things that go against what society teaches us about going it alone.
This is why I believe that a mentoring relationship is so important. Anybody that has ever done anything great has done it with coaching or mentoring support. When you see people accepting an Oscar on tv, you never hear them say, Id like to thank the one person that made this all happen.me. Without me in the picture, I dont know how I could have done all of this.
They thank the people that were there to help them through. They openly acknowledge that their success was not a one man show. There are always relationships going on in the background that help create this success.
Photo By: Dominic Morel
The same things happen in a mentoring partnership. In these connections, the mentee brings the experience they have to the relationship and the mentor brings clarity to it. Heres what I meanIn my opinion, there is no mentoring relationship unless there is something that can be improved.
The mentors goal should be to help the mentee improve in an area, even if it is a small improvement. For example, if they are looking for a job, helping them with their resume or helping them find a job is an improvement. In many cases, a mentor should be able to help a mentee improve quicker together than the mentee could improve alone.
The clarity that comes from the mentor is only possible through the engagement of the mentee. In other words, improvement can only come when there is action. Any person that thinks they know everything they need to know to accomplish something is lying to themselves.
I believe that no dream or goal in life can be accomplished by the experience or actions of one individual. A plane wouldnt get off the ground without help from the air traffic controller. Championships in sports wouldnt happen unless the team worked together. The experience that the mentee has is not always enough to create improvement.
Many times clarity is needed to move in the right direction. I call this the mentoring perspective. A mentor can be considered as someone that is one step ahead of you in life. Maybe they are just one rung higher on the ladder than you. The goal is for the mentor to reach back or reach down to pull you to the next step or rung.
This happens through providing clarity based on the mentors experience and most of the time their experience is connected to people that helped them. So the clarity a mentor provides is created by the experience they went through themselves. This is how and why the mentor can relate to the mentee.
Mentoring is a powerful opportunity to add value to someones life. We all have the ability to create a mentoring relationship that can help someone. I encourage you to take the opportunity on January 9, 2014 and even beyond to become a mentor. I believe you can add value and improve a life.