Firstly, why have a mentor? Mentoring has been around for millennia because it simply works. It offers great benefits for both the mentor and mentee. Mentoring is commonly used in professional contexts, however having a mentor can also offer an enriching presence in your personal life. A great mentor is like kindle, someone who can help illuminate or stir up the fire within you. If that doesn’t do it for you, here are four key benefits to having a mentor:
1 | Guidance
Simply put, a mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. A mentor is someone who is more experienced than you. Their knowledge of the ins and outs is valuable. However, more valuable are their mistakes. While many learn from their experience, I personally learn more from mistakes. Mistakes and what you do with them reveal character. Mentors also add perspective and encourage you to think outside of yourself, creating a selfless outlook. Having someone who is approachable, caring and insightful puts me at ease, knowing I am supported and I am not alone in the labyrinth.
2 | Aspirations
A great mentor helps achieve another’s personal and professional aspirations. Not only do they help define your dreams, they help lay down the groundwork for your dream to become reality. For your career, it is a solid foundation for future opportunities. Within a personal context, it is having someone in your corner who encourages you, inspires you, and picks you up when you are knocked down. Do not expect a mentor to do your work. It takes effort to reach your goals. However, two heads are better than one. Mentors are great assets to your success.
3 | Network
Particularly useful within the professional context, networking is an important tool. In the modern age, it is more difficult to stand out among many other digital presences. The old adage of ‘it is who you know’ is assisted by your mentor’s willingness to allow you to access a wider selection of like-minded people; such as people involved in the same career industry, those with similar interests, or simply people your mentor knows. You never know who you may meet along the way. I have received most of my work through networking and creating new relationships. Networking should not be underestimated. Through your quality connections, you develop relationships and doors are flung open to new opportunities.
4 | Accountability
A great mentor is willing to confront. Accountability sparks a change in the relationship between the mentor and the mentee. To be accountable is to be responsible or answerable to one another. While a good mentor encourages you, a great mentor also reveals your blind spots. This does mean vulnerability is required to allow growth. We naturally resist rejection. We learn to brush past feelings; ‘I’m good’ becomes a stock response, your thoughts and actions are not carefully considered. When held accountable, you are present, thoughtful and shifted into a position to glow. The vulnerability creates an ally in your mentor.
Plutarch once said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled”.
Go forth and find your kindle.