Be a Mentor
Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
When I am asked what my favorite hobby is, I answer, “Helping others to succeed.” I do not say this because I want people to think of me as an overly nice guy, but for me, helping others to succeed is a source of total pleasure and enjoyment. This is certainly not a unique quality; it seems to be in our nature to want to help others. We all may not possess the wisdom needed to help others succeed, but just about everyone possesses enough wisdom in some area to help someone with something. By being a mentor, we can help others while we help ourselves.
A mentor can loosely be defined as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. However, a mentor/mentee (or mentor/protégé) relationship is often more personal and less rigid than that of a teacher/student relationship. Where teachers are mostly looked upon for information, and counselor’s guidance, mentors provide advice, encouragement, and inspiration. It is important to note that teachers, counselors, friends, and even lawyers can also be mentors.
While money is considered a valuable asset, an even more valuable asset that you can share is your wisdom in a particular area, which is made up of your knowledge and experience. When you mentor someone, besides the personal fulfillment and enjoyment of helping another, you benefit by learning even more yourself. Learning is a lifelong process that happens to be a very beneficial side effect of mentoring. Mentoring is also a form a leadership that gives you practical leadership experience. Leading just one person to start can turn into leading an entire organization or even a nation.
Anyone can be a mentor, but not everyone can be a good mentor in every situation. Being a good mentor requires the right set of circumstances and qualities. Below are some of these circumstances and qualities. Remember not to sell yourself short. Although you may not think you will make an ideal mentor, the chances are you will make a fine mentor.
- Knowledge. To be a mentor, you have to have a certain degree of knowledge in the area in which you are mentoring. This may sound obvious, but some people love to give advice just because others are willing to listen to them. There are also those who feel that because they have not mastered the material, they do not possess enough knowledge to help others. Former con-artist Frank Abagnale Jr. once taught a class where he was supposed to be a student, simply by reading one chapter ahead of the rest of the class. Just knowing a little bit more is all it takes.
- Experience. Experience is something that cannot be quantified, although many people try. Some people have ten years experience where others have one year of experience repeated ten times. Learning from experience and altering your actions and behaviors, as a result, is what makes experience a valuable teacher. The more experience you have, the more wisdom you can share as a mentor.
- Confidence. A mentor must have self-confidence. It is confidence of the mentor that helps give the mentee his or her confidence.
- Salesmanship. When you are a mentor, you are selling ideas.
- Empathy. Mentors should be able to identify as well as understand a mentee’s situation, feelings, and motives.
- Caring. More than just understand, mentors should care about those whom they are mentoring.
- Inspire. Mentors who can inspire through their words or actions are most respected by those whom they are mentoring.
- Time. A Mentor must have enough time to give the mentee the attention he or she requires.
- The right mentee. For many reasons, some people are just not compatible. If you do not have luck with a mentee, do not give up on being a mentor. Keep looking.
Being a mentor can be a very rewarding experience in several ways. Think about areas in which you would make a good mentor. Think about people or groups of people that you can mentor and actively seek out mentoring opportunities. While your favorite hobby may not be mentoring, the chances are that you will find another source of enjoyment in mentoring.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)