A mentor is more than a teacher. Teachers show you something and leave you to your own devices. A mentor is concerned about your “whole being.” They pierce who you are to help guide you without interfering with your individuality. A mentor should never want you to be like them, but help to mould those characteristics that make you, well, you.
Who is your mentor? and why is it important to have a mentor? Read on as we explain why.
The Definition Of A Mentor
A mentor is someone you can look up to, normally deemed to be a trusted counselor or guide. Mentors play a crucial part in our lives by sharing their experience, words of positive thinking and how you can go about getting the best out of your life. Most people only think of mentors in the form of academic or job relations. Even though this is not uncommon, here, we speak of mentors in deeper terms. In fact, a mentor can emerge in various forms. Whether a person, a movie, lyrics of a song, or a book, a mentor gives the student a unique tool, training, or advice that puts them on the right road of life’s journey that suits the particular challenges they face. A mentor cannot free anyone from life’s challenges, but they can teach you how to cope with them, overcome them, learn from them, and move onto your next level of growth.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
Today, the term “mentor” is used loosely. You can practically find a mentor in your basement if you look hard enough. There are self-help gurus, life coaches, TV personalities, motivational speakers, and the whole lot. There are a number of channels in which these mentors can be contacted as well. The Internet, videos, Skype, books, Facebook, just about anywhere today, someone can be contacted instantly to assist you with your life journey. Life is certainly complicated enough. If you want to build a momentous life, you will need to meet individuals who can help guide you, and you must be ready to be guided.
Wisdom is the Mentor’s Hangout
In order to succeed in life your best teacher is wisdom. It should be pursued with enthusiasm. Hang out with wise people and model your life after them. Ask questions and continue to ask for as long as your mentor is willing to answer. To the surprise of many, wisdom is not just book learning, and certainly not instantly obtainable. It defies precise definition. To define wisdom too strictly is curtailing the depth of it potential to help us.
The spirit of wisdom is praised in every land. It is frequently viewed as a state-of-mind that leaves one calm and able to filter through situations put before them without acting rashly. Wisdom consists of the ability to reflect and view the bigger-picture while still appreciating the minute details that make things work well. The great philosopher Confucius said, “There are three ways one may learn wisdom. Firstly, through reflection, which is gracious, then by imitation, which is simplest, and last by experience, which is the most unpleasant.”
A “true” mentor must possess qualities of wisdom. There are mentors who are charismatic, but that does not equate wisdom. There are mentors who are attractive, but it has nothing to do with insight. There are mentors who are materially wealthy, but there are fools who are as well. You can find mentors in every walk of life whether they are for personal or professional assistance. Nevertheless, if they do not possess the characteristics of sincerity and the ability to deeply comprehend where it is you need to grow, a mentor will be of very little help.
Mentors in Your Professional Work Life
A few years ago a large technology company based in the United States released results of a study that delved into the value of mentoring. The study, conducted by a research and advisory firm and a software and services company, utilized statistical investigations to analyze the financial influence of mentoring and how funding could be used in that area. The study determined that “mentoring had a positive affect on mentors and their learners and produced staff that was more highly valued by the company.”
Researchers checked data from over 1,000 employees through a five-year period, classified by job description, such as engineers and administrators. The study analyzed nearly 70 variables such as previous employment code, base pay, job performance rating, salary grade, promotion, salary grade change, salary increase because of promotion, and merit increase in salary.
Researchers discovered that 25% of employees in the test cluster that participated in the company’s mentoring program had a salary-grade change, The program also had positive financial advantages for the mentors: over 27% of mentors in the test group were given a salary-grade change compared to 5% in the control group.
Researchers also discovered that the company’s mentoring program was not as effective for high achievers. This was astounding, since many mentoring programs concentrate on developing high-performers with the best potential. This led researchers to deduce that “funds are better spent on lower-performers to assist them in raising their performance level.” Overall, the study showed that mentoring can only be worthwhile if the learner is willing to be taught. The perfect mentor needs perfect students, if not, no one benefits whether in the corporate world or in private life.
Modelling the Masters
In Homer’s noble verse “The Odyssey,” Odysseus had difficulty finding his way back home to the palace after the Trojan War, there were too many dangers threatened to disrupt his crossing. However, Odysseus felt comforted knowing that he had a wise and loyal friend named Mentor to protect and teach his son, Telemachus, through his absence.
Despite the wave of change in our culture, in some cases because of it, mentoring is vital in every person’s life. Especially younger people looking to learn from more experienced individuals in their private and work lives. In fact, mentoring may be just as important for organizations since connecting with mature mentors with a promising protégé is a perfect means of keeping valued employees and preventing them from going elsewhere.
Mentors help to guide an individual, organization, or employee to become acclimated to the world around them while keeping the validity of each one’s purpose. As adults, we must take the proper approach to finding the right mentor for our lives. To find the right mentor, search deep. Don’t grab the closest expert from down the block. Look with your eyes open. Check their credentials and references. Find out if they live by their word. Test their wisdom. Make sure they are respected.
The secret to a good mentor is a developed commitment to communication and trust. Criticism is something many of us find hard to take lightly; however, it is a less difficult pill to swallow if it is coming from a person you trust, a person with insight and wisdom, someone who you know has your back. In particular, be sure that you mentor is available to you. You may have the utmost mentor in the universe; however, if they have no time for you, then they will not be the best option to guide you to the place you really want to be.
If you believe that you have what it takes to be a mentor yourself then checkout our post 10 Steps To Becoming A Motivational Speaker to learn the ropes on how you can inspire others to do great things and live a successful life.
Feature Image Courtesy of OWN.