The Benefits of Mentorship
A student looks to his or her teacher for accountability and learning. And the tennis player depends on his or her coach for encouragement and guidance. Mentors are pivotal people in our growth and development, whether in our personal or professional lives. Sometimes in both. It can be a teacher, a parent, someone in our community, so long as this person provides a source of accountability, wisdom, as well as encouragement coupled with criticism.
First and foremost, a mentor is a positive role model. Typically they are older, and are someone we admire and aspire to be like. Not only are they easy to talk to, but they also have a way of knowing you before you know yourself. They offer wisdom and pose thoughtful questions. Most importantly, they have strength of character, particularly integrity. Let the old saying, “You are the company you keep,” guide you when choosing a mentor.
Secondly, mentors give accountability. It’s human nature to be lazy, or to excuse ourselves. We love to rationalize why we do what we do, even if it’s against our goals and personal success. Having an unbiased voice to hold you to the things we say minimizes the desire to have excuses. It becomes much more difficult to tell someone you respect that you’ve fallen short of what you committed to, as opposed to admitting it only to yourself.
Mentors are also a fountain of knowledge, eager to share. Find a youngest sibling and ask them how they know how to behave and avoid trouble. They’ll tell you they watched their older siblings’ failures and successes. A mentor offers something similar. They are an easily accessible resource for questions about the hard stuff, the deeply personal stuff. Or the smaller stuff: business queries, relationship advice, recipes, connections. Anything. Those who have experience are far better teachers than someone with an opinion.
Lastly, a mentor is going to be your greatest encourager as well as your greatest critic. They are unbiased with an outside perspective, but also long to see you succeed. They will be able to offer insight and judgment on your life, but construct it around what they observe is best suited to further your personal growth. We all could use someone in our corner.
And for final thoughts: the heart of a healthy mentorship relationship is commitment. By pursuing the mentor(s) in your life, you can trust they will respond accordingly. It’s easy to become complacent in our busy lives, but a mentor will live that busy life step by step beside you.