What is a mentor?
Mentor: A wise and faithful councilor.
- Webster's New School And Office Dictionary
Mentoring and Apprenticing is Masterminding.:
Status Mentor: People that have gained experienced in the same situation as me and have processed through it. They generally acknowledge themselves as my mentor in some aspect and can provide helpful insight.
Peer Mentor: People that are in a similar situation to me in some aspect. They have an intention to change themselves and their situation in some way. They could be almost anyone! We all have intention to change and grow. Sometimes time-frames and ideals and more may vary.
Silent Mentor: People that I admire, listen to, watch carefully and learn from, even though they may not be aware of it.
The recent rise in popularity of corporate mentor–apprentice programs is part of a move to reconnect. In corporate communities around the world, business leaders are developing or purchasing formal mentoring programs because they offer step-by-step structures and guaranteed outcomes.
From an employer’s perspective, these programs help develop more loyal, productive, motivated, and confident staff. As a result, financial outcomes are typically stronger.
From an employee’s perspective, mentor–apprentice programs offer key strategies for successful living such as enhanced communication skills, tolerance for differences, opportunities for advancement and balance between work and life.
It’s a win–win situation for everyone. The more conscious we become of attracting mentors and being mentors, the more focused and effective our networking becomes.
At findamentor.org we, too, believe in the corporate benefits of formal mentoring programs. But we also believe that people seek and accept guidance in all aspects of their lives, not just their careers.
Although there has been a traditional separation between work and home, we feel that where we gain experience does not concern us as much as the effects of our experiences—emotional, spiritual, or intellectual. If, for example, we were experiencing a difficult divorce, we could hardly deny its potential effect on job performance. If we were having personality conflicts at work that could jeopardize our job, we would undoubtedly find time to stress over it at home. At a very basic level, where our hopes, fears, and dreams reside, the boundaries between work and home can become very hazy.
There is opportunity to receive guidance and support at more fundamental levels. We believe that real growth can occur only when the needs of the whole person are addressed. If, for example, my employer pays my enrolment fees for a Toastmasters course because I’m afraid of public speaking, I must at some point recognize that my fear of it is not simply job-related.
It goes much deeper than that—to my need for recognition, support, and respect and to my fear of losing those. The public speaking course offers a safe place to learn how to keep the respect and recognition I desire, whether I speak in public for my employer or for myself. From my employer’s perspective, the course can make me a more effective staff member. From my perspective, I am becoming a more confident, well-rounded person.
We believe the first and best place to find mentors and apprentices is in our existing network of family, friends, and associates. But sometimes—when we move to a new city, for instance—we need other options because our networks are very small.
The mentoring program at findamentor.org believes in supporting and nurturing both the professional and personal development needs of individuals. That is why we have created a philosophy of mentoring that focuses on communication and the process of discovery.
There are no hoops to jump through. There are no step-by-step directions that cater to a lowest common denominator rather than particular needs. There are no magic cures. By the same token, there is unlimited opportunity to grow and learn. There is opportunity to safely seek out a connection that will facilitate growth within each individual in an area of life where there is desire for change.
As a potential mentor it is important to understand how our philosophy translates into action. Everyone has the potential to become a mentor.
Whether you are a high-level executive or a bartender or a stay-at-home dad, you’ve had many experiences that can be shared with others going through similar stages in their lives. Most of us find it easy to relate with other people about, work, play, and similar life process experience (puberty, midlife, menopause and old age). These shared experiences form the basis for connecting with others.
But shared experiences are only part of the successful mentor–apprentice relationship. Good mentors have many qualities that help establish a successful bond.
GOOD MENTORS HAVE . . .
- Already experienced what apprentices need help with at this point in
- Reflected on and learned from their experiences.
- Successfully passed through the decision-making process for the issues at hand.
- Made a commitment to help others.
GOOD MENTORS WILL . . .
- Respect apprentices' need to do what is right for them.
- Understand that apprentices make wiser decisions when they see more options.
- Provide enough guidance for apprentices to recognize several options before making a decision about their situation.
- Offer support and information, though not necessarily advice. Mentors' support might come in the form of a simple gesture of approval, or it may be a willingness to set aside extra time to share ideas, experience and skill.
- Listen to their apprentices' stories or concerns and provide different points of view so that apprentices see more options.
- Not be concerned with having apprentices follow their advice. They want to help apprentices find solutions that are right for them.
- Ask many questions. Mentors' overall objective is to get apprentices to think carefully about their concerns.
Above all, mentoring is about listening without negative judgement and questioning with respect. If the benefits of the mentor–apprentice association are to be realized, the relationship must offer a calm, safe place to explore and question our surroundings and selves. In such a setting, both mentors and apprentices inspire and challenge each other. The benefits become mutual and the possibilities become endless.
A twenty-year-old man might be a mentor for a thirteen-year-old boy passing through puberty and having difficulty with his parents or peers. A seventy-year-old woman might be a mentor for a fifty-year-old woman passing through menopause. A forty-year-old man who’s successfully survived a rocky turn in his marriage might mentor a fifty-year-old woman who’s contemplating divorce. The possibilities are as varied and limitless as the people.
Every mentor–apprentice relationship offers a unique type of commitment. Healthy relationships need room to shift and evolve. We believe the mentoring time commitment can begin with the amount of time it takes to have a leisurely lunch every month or two.
Rarely are there times when mentors take on the more formal role of coach or consultant, but as relationships develop, it can happen. When I ask my mentor to take on this role, I am asking for different, more detailed advice. This process requires a longer time commitment for a short period and is very helpful when needed.
On one occasion I was moving my cellular phone business to a larger store. I hired one of my mentors as a consultant to help me create a business plan and hire new salespeople. He had very credible experience in both areas. The relationship shifted back to being less formal after the consulting contract.
You could become a mentor!
When you give of yourself, your generosity returns to you and brings balance to your life.
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