“Successful people often forget to teach others how they got there.” -Bishop T.D. Jakes
In general, there feels like a disconnect between those who’ve been there, done that and those who are prepping for what’s to come. We give experience too much rope in teaching others when they only end up hanging themselves in the process. Gruesome image I know, but what better way to describe the “they’ll learn for themselves” mentality that seems a little too popular nowadays?
Where are all the Mentors???
Sometimes experience is the best teacher. However, unnecessary experiences can be avoided with the right people guiding the way.
Example. You have a choice between taking the long way around a creek or taking the bridge straight through it. You chose to cross the bridge, suddenly you fall through into the creek because of a weak spot in the middle. Eventually you make it to the other side dripping wet and exhausted. You can then say from experience that it was better to take the long way rather than the bridge. Now I come behind you and I don’t know about the weak spot so I chose to take the bridge. A mentor would caution against taking the bridge and even though the decision is ultimately up to me; at least now I can make a more informed one.
Some people are reluctant to be this kind of mentor because they are simply bitter about not having one of their own. Those are the people you will hear making statements like “Nobody ever helped me.” Then you have those who relish the status they have and simply don’t wish to share the spoils.
Still, I believe the biggest reason is many people downplay their ability to share what they know with others because they feel unqualified. You don’t have to be rich to be a mentor. You don’t have to be wildly successful either. Good mentors should have knowledge and experience in the field you’re seeking advice for and a willingness to share those things. Not all mentors are older and not all mentees are young.
I recognize that parents in low income households especially have difficulty mentoring their children who may be entering into college or circumstances outside of their own personal experience. While the main focus of this article is business mentoring I think it necessary to point out the importance of emotional mentoring.
Encouraging low income teens to dream and set goals for themselves is a way of emotional mentoring that a lot of families drop the ball on. Low income parents deem themselves unqualified to help led their own children often thinking that schools or other adults will fill in.
This is simply not the case and more often than not the child is left at even more of a disadvantage. Parents should talk to children about their futures. If you must, research their goals and connect them with others who have already taken the journey. See article about internships for High School Students
True mentor ship helps connect those who know with those who want to know. This is true for business, education, relationships, religion…pretty much every area of your life can benefit from a bit of mentoring regardless of age.
Once again millennials get a bad rep for not seeking out mentors. I brought into this theory until I thought: How can you seek something you don’t realize you need? It wasn’t until I viewed my life in retrospect that I realized a mentor could have made a world of difference. Young adults today apply the term mentor with a career or profession. The term is seen for entrepreneurs but what about the rest of us?
Upon deciding on this topic I found a lot of articles pinning mentor ship as something exclusively for entrepreneurs in my research. Why is that? Does 19 yr old college freshman Erica not need advice and guidance just like 32 yr old Anthony the entrepreneur? The right answer is yes. They both need mentor ship in different forms.
Young adults who have navigated through the turbulence of college should link up with a high school senior who will soon become a university freshman. Anthony started a successful barber shop and should guide his little cousin Mario through barber school.
Sometimes I think back on simple mistakes I’ve made in education, finances, and relationships and I think “Man! Think of what I would’ve accomplished with a mentor,” and here’s why:
- A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser. This person or persons can help guide you down paths that they have already taken to prepare you for the journey and what comes next.
- A good mentor can act as a confidant in the process of you achieving your goals. Having someone to share in the experience with you who understands the process and frustrations is a great for you mentally and emotionally while you pursue your endeavors.
- A mentor can help you avoid careless mistakes that you could make through your lack of knowledge. Your mentor should have a wealth of knowledge in the area they’re guiding you in and you will definitely benefit from this. Most knowledge comes through experience and experience takes time. Having guidance from someone who has the time put into a certain field or area will help you along your journey.
- A mentor can highlight your strengths and weaknesses while building your confidence through their insight of your potential.
- A mentor is the best form of networking as they can provide solid opportunities based on their understanding of your abilities and your goals.
And it’s called mentor SHIP (like relationship) for a reason. You can not expect your mentor to make decisions for you, that is not what they’re there for. They simply provide insight. Mentors always want to know that whatever information they give you will be put to good use. This can be ensured through work for their business or requests for you to do a special project. Embrace working for or with your mentor as it will likely be a learning experience. Give a little, Get a little.
A mentor can be a senior level employee at your firm or a teacher you’ve always admired. A mentor can be a parent, older sibling, or a stranger who is in the business you’re trying to get into. Don’t limit your thinking.
Everyone who is starting off into a new venture can benefit from a mentor. I have a host of mentors in my military career; however, my civilian life could use some mentoring. Right now I’m on the search for a mentor who is an entrepreneur and involved in helping the community.
Having mentors who are specific to the goals you are attempting to accomplish is important to you getting the most out of your journey. Don’t be afraid to seek mentors as many people will not offer for the reasons explained above. But most people have something to offer others who are essentially coming behind them.
I encourage you to seek a mentor or mentor someone today so that it will improve futures tomorrow.