Have you ever thought of the people who have helped you navigate life stages or helped you reach success? Formally or informally, these are your mentors.
When I look up “mentor” in the dictionary, I see words like wise and loyal. Toastmasters describes a mentor as someone with experience and expertise who is willing to share their knowledge with someone willing to learn and succeed. Toastmasters also describes mentors as an active listener, someone who’s analytical and also available.
This got me thinking about mentors I’ve had during my lifetime.
One of my first jobs was as an administrative assistant in the Communications Department. I was young, enthusiastic and ready to start my career. It didn’t take long to realize that this was where I wanted to be. After several months, I also realized that I needed more challenge. I had a plan. I’d create my own role.
I asked myself, “What can I do that will free up time for the writers and designers and give me a more challenging role?” I wrote my own job description and with the support of my leader, became the first editorial design assistant in the Communications Department!
So what does that have to do with mentoring? A lot!
I knew absolutely nothing about writing and even less about design. But my leader did. She shared her knowledge and her experience to help me develop. She was there to answer my questions and help me grow. As I got more skilled, she added more responsibility to my role. This was huge in my move to the next stage of my career.
Several months went by and it was time to take a break from my job. I was about to introduce my first born into the world — a beautiful baby girl. But just like my editorial design assistant role, I knew absolutely nothing about motherhood. But my mother did! Fortunately she was there to guide me and teach me the ropes. Mentors not only help you develop, they also shorten the learning curve to success and with a newborn, I needed to get there fast!
Mentoring can happen formally or informally. Sometimes you don’t even know it’s happening. But if you think of the people who have guided you throughout your career or lifetime, you may just see you’ve had a mentor or two.
Fast forward 34 years and that beautiful baby girl has little ones of her own, a husband and a successful career. When she needs guidance or just needs an ear to listen, I’m there. In a sense, I like to think I’ve now become a mentor for her.