How to Make Mentorship Work for You (Everything You Need to Know)
How to Make Mentorship Work for You (Everything You Need to Know)
What is a mentor? What does it look like to be involved in mentorship? Why should you even have a mentor?
There are so many questions out there about mentorship! But thankfully, there are also some answers!
WHAT MENTORSHIP IS
Mentorship is a relationship that allows one person to share advice, experience, and encouragement with another, usually centered around a specific area of life, relationships, faith, health, or business or for a specific season or stage of life.
You could have a mentor to help you grow in your faith, help strengthen your marriage, help you make new friends in a new town, start your own business, start an exercise routine, learn to cook, or any other number of things!
I personally have had mentors for my faith over the years, like Bible study leaders and discipleship group leaders. I've also led Bible studies and a community group myself. I've also had business mentors guide me through starting up my business.
Mentorship is a great arrangement because it looks different for everybody, and it can be flexible and adaptable so it can work for everyone!
WHY HAVE A MENTOR
There are several reasons why it's beneficial to have a mentor in one area of your life or another.
Having a mentor saves time and energy because you're no longer trying to learn everything the hard way.
I don't know about you, but I can be stubborn, trying to do everything by myself. But I've learned several times that it's much faster, simpler, and more efficient (and sanity-saving) to ask for help when I need it!
Being involved in mentoring also allows you to gain wisdom from others' experiences. Experiences are one of the best ways to learn, but you don't know what you don't know.
Getting to learn from others' experiences (good and bad) gives you the opportunity to learn even more without having to experience it firsthand. It can provide you with shortcuts or better ways to do things based on lessons others have learned. It's like being on the fast-track to your destination!
Mentorship also allows you to build relationships with people outside your friend circle or peer group. We often spend most of our time with people who are like us, people who are close to our age and stage of life, people who believe what we believe, people who like what we like.
Engaging in mentorship allows us to open ourselves to relationships with people who are a little different than us, enriching our lives, broadening our understanding, and letting us learn from experiences different than our own.
Having a mentor also allows you to gain perspective you don't get on your own. We can only see so much ourselves, and when we're in the middle of a difficult situation or tricky challenge, we can be too close to see the way out. By having someone else in our lives to turn to for guidance, we can get valuable perspective to help us through.
WHY BE A MENTOR
Not only can you have a mentor for your own life or business, but you can also be a mentor to someone else!
You might be thinking you're not qualified, but you don't have to be an expert! And you certainly don't have to be an expert at everything. You only have to be a step or two ahead of someone in the area that they're looking for some assistance in, and I know you can do that!
Being a mentor provides you with the opportunity to encourage others as they work through the struggles they're facing. It helps you step outside your own little corner of the world and help someone else!
It also gives you an opening to share your experiences and pass along your wisdom and advice. Sure, people can Google anything these days, but nothing can replace the wisdom gained from talking to someone who's been through what we're going through, listening to their stories and learning from their lessons so we don't have to repeat their mistakes.
Being a mentor gives you the chance to share what you've learned with someone else, spreading the things you've learned and the wisdom you've gained along the way, paying it forward to someone else!
Last but not least, being a mentor allows you to build relationships with people you might not have otherwise built a relationship with. A mentee might be several years younger than you and run in different social circles. You might not even have ever interacted with them if it wasn't for the mentoring relationship they initiated with you (or that you initiated with them). But they, too, can enrich your life through their friendship and fresh new perspective.
HOW TO FIND A MENTOR
That's all fine and dandy, but how do you find a mentor? Do you just walk up to someone and ask, "Would you be my mentor?" Not exactly.
I encourage you to look at the people around you first. Who is already in your life in some capacity, or in a place that you are already connected? Consider your church, community group, workplace, and neighborhood. These people are likely already somewhat familiar with you, which could provide a great basis for a mentoring relationship.
Then, look for "experts" in the field you're looking to get some assistance in. These don't have to be bona fide experts, and they don't have to have a special degree, title, or occupation. But it does work best if they're a bit ahead of you on their journey so that they can share their experiences and advice with you well.
Just ask them to grab coffee! Ask if you can pick their brain for a little bit. And then ask if they'd like to continue getting together.
It doesn't have to be complicated or formal. You don't have to sign a contract or do one of those spit handshakes. All you have to do is get together and talk about the topic that you're looking for some advice regarding.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD MENTOR RELATIONSHIP
That being said, there are some characteristics of good and not-so-good mentoring relationships.
Commitment is a big one. Both people need to be committed to the relationship. If either one of you doesn't really want to be there, neither of you are going to get as much out of it as you could have otherwise.
Along with commitment, consistency is key. If you can meet regularly (say, every week or two, at least every month) to talk about how things are going and share experiences and wisdom, then you'll be able to develop a stronger connection of trust, allowing you to share more and gain the greatest amount of benefits. If you meet and talk haphazardly, you might forget what was said the last time, where you left off, or even what the point of meeting was altogether.
Another quality to take into consideration is having personalities that fit together. Much like in ordinary friendships, you won't get along with everyone. It's important to find a mentor that you can have a good conversation with. You don't have to agree on everything, but you don't want someone who drives you bananas, either. So feel them out during that initial coffee date, and don't be afraid to gently tell them it's not working down the line if you find yourself dreading every subsequent meeting. They probably feel the same way, and it's not worth it!
Remember that mentorship relationships are usually only for a reason or a season. When you have learned what you set out to learn, your mentor may not have more advice for you; you might actually have surpassed their knowledge! Or if you move through the season that brought you to them in the first place, it might be time to move on, and that's okay! The mentorship relationship has then served its purpose, and you're free to seek another mentor for whatever's next for you!
As you seek a mentor for your personal life, relationships, health, business, or other area of your life, I hope you find these tips and explanations helpful. And if you're ready to seek a mentor to empower and encourage you to reach new levels in your life, home, and business, I'm your girl! I'm a Joy + Purpose Coach and Simplicity Strategist, and I would love to talk to you about your goals and steps you can take to reach them!