Life is always better when we live it with others.
There are times when we all need help--encouragement, support, a friend, coworker, or solution to a problem. The hope of making good decisions and doing things well are commendable goals, but that process often includes someone else because life is lived out with others, together. As I look back over my life, there has always been someone there to lend a helping hand. In the early stages of marriage, as a young professional and especially becoming a new mother I needed help! I wasn’t on the lookout for a mentor, I didn’t know I needed one, but help came. Maybe they saw me floundering, lacking skills or needing help. These teachers, friends, neighbors, coworkers and strangers were my champions. They were mentors.
Are you a mentor? Well, if you’ve been available to folks in your life where you’ve provided some source of strength, encouragement, wisdom, insight or a listening ear then you’ve mentored. Mentoring can be described as giving advice or guidance to someone with less experience. And the beauty about a lifetime is at some point we’re all going to give or need guidance.
It doesn’t matter if mentoring is intentional, comes naturally or it’s thrust upon you, it is championed by a desire to help promote, advance and further develop someone else.
Here are some tangible benefits from mentoring.
- Mentoring is a mutual process where both people can benefit from the relationship. Mentors experience personal satisfaction when contributing to the growth and development of another individual. Walking through life with someone, especially during adversity, increases their capacity to stick it out, hold on, survive and persevere.
- Mentoring promotes a positive attitude. Your attitude can determine the altitude of objectivity, possibilities and fortitude for those you are guiding. A positive attitude is contagious and productive.
- Mentoring relationships bring recognition to local and national agencies. Organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters; and local agencies like Fresh Hope and Youth Horizons receive organizational recognition because these programs use mentoring to further individuals who want the benefits of having someone in their corner.
- Mentoring is humbling. When passing along knowledge that is worthwhile and could be life altering, you will greatly consider what is helpful the most. You want your contributions, the guidance you give to count so it will take root and bear fruit. Although you’re not an expert in everything, it is humbling when others welcome you into their space in order to help make positive changes. It will expand your capacity of grace, learning and understanding.
As you are doing life with someone? Look around and see who are you helping? Are you able to give encouragement, support and guidance to someone who really use it? If you find yourself in the midst of someone else's life, seek ways to be that source of strength…and leave that person or situation better than it was before you were factored into it. Mentoring does that…it seeks to impart wisdom and provide direction and hopefully others will be thankful that you came.
Eby, L.T., Durley, J.R., Evans, S.C., & Ragins, B.R. (2006). The Relationship Between Short-term Mentoring Benefits and Long-term Mentor Outcomes. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 69424-444. Doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2006.05.003