Most of us have mentors in our lives, both formal and informal. We have gained different things at different times from different people.
Who have been your mentors and when?
‘Mentoring’ is one of those words that everyone broadly understands. I always contest that if there’s ten people in a room there’s probably ten differing definitions. With mentoring having become a more common and professionalised world, you can throw in coaching too if you want.
When might you turn to a mentor? In leadership circles we’re hearing more and more of this being a routine offer of professional development for the CEO. As a fifteen year old your first conversation with an impartial adult when seeking a different perspective, might also be your first mentoring experience. A chat with a mate after a tough day may help to unlock your next steps too.
We didn’t realise at the time, but we’ve benefited from differing views from the moment we’re born. What happens next determines whether we’re prepared to listen, truly hear, reflect and make any changes to our lives and actions as a result of them. It’s why we travel – to see another world from another angle. Like travel, a mentor broadens the mind.
You don’t have to be broken or sad to have a mentor. It’s not advice, as this is more likely to be something you pay for professionally to fix something specific. I know we’re encouraged to focus on our failures these days, but sometimes the best mentoring conversations occur when things are going well. In this situation we can focus on what’s next or why it’s going well. A mentor at this time can help with growth as another might equally help when things are difficult.
I’ve experienced all these types of mentoring. In adult professional mentoring there is a place for high level conversations, but I’m currently finding most benefit from tackling specifics. This is quite likely due to the isolation one experiences as CEO founder too. By putting real trust in the mentor’s skills, recognising that they don’t have to know anything about your world, you can work through tricky situations and come out feeling confident and empowered.
Like much in life, you get out what you put in. A small amount of preparation, a lack of cynicism, trust in the process and a bit of listening goes a long way.