Yesterday I had lunch with my mentor to discuss a few upcoming professional decisions, ideas, and dreams I’ve had lately here in the world of education. As I walked away from our lunch with a smile on my face and a boost of empowerment in my chest, I felt so grateful, and then suddenly had the thought “Why doesn’t everyone have a mentor?” I am the educator I am today in no exaggeration because of the observations, learning, reflecting, planning, and meaningful conversations with this woman. My experience yesterday had such impact that I could write about nothing else today except for the value of finding and having a mentor.
A mentor is someone who is more experienced in your chosen profession or interest areas that you develop a relationship with, receive guidance from, and sometimes receive the assurances you need during your interactions together. Mentors help in countless ways. Mentors can help you work through a decision needing to be made, using their own experiences and knowledge of you to point out possible strengths or weaknesses you may not be able to identify on your own. Mentors can give perspectives that you don’t have or have not thought of yet. Mentors have their own set of contacts that may be bridges for you or have efficient access to new information useful to you. Mentors use their own experiences, and the ones of all they have known, to offer as guidance to assist your own personal and professional journey.
The term mentor is most often heard when bringing new people into an organization or a job. I think it is important to state that a mentor is helpful no matter what stage you are in career-wise. Right now is a great time to cultivate and access this relational wisdom for your next best move.
Take a look around and think about this question: Is there someone who you professionally and/or personally admire? Is there someone you notice who thinks a little different or is bold in their thoughts and actions? Do you know someone who oozes passion for what you also do? Is there someone you have a sacred respect for whose perspective may be the springboard that takes you where you’ve always wanted to be? As long as the person has knowledge and characteristics you can learn from, they fit the role descriptor of a mentor.
The benefit of having a mentor will only be gained by how you use what is provided in the relationship. At the end of the day, you will be the one that makes this relationship of value. From my experience, the possible rewards are insight, perspective, vision, experience, talent development, and a trusted sounding board. No doubt my mentor’s non-biased yet fully supportive approach to helping me be the best educator I can be has leveled me to the opportunities I have been given. A mentor relationship is an invaluable resource that few people take advantage of. Don’t let any more time go by without one, and watch your capabilities expand to your benefit and all around you.