I have had some of the BEST bosses in this world who have provided levels of mentorship I couldn’t describe.
Mentorship has a different meaning for everyone. A mentor can be an employer, coworker, family member, professor, or even a family friend. However, the one thing they all have in common is a relationship that is built with inspiration, respect, guidance, and support. A good mentor can transform your outlook on obstacles you may face in your path.
Inspiration is crucial in a mentorship. Your mentor should be someone who inspires you both professionally and personally. I have found that this not only builds respect but also encourages me to work harder and trust their advice. It makes me not only want to be better for myself, but also for them. Having someone act as your mentor is one of the greatest compliments and it should inspire you to make it worth their while by going above and beyond.
I can accredit almost all professional development to my mentors. Everything from connections I’ve made, the opportunities I’ve been offered, to what shoes I should wear to my interview have been inspired by those I look up to. Even simple things like running every e-mail or post through Grammarly, I have learned from people who have taken the time and energy out of their careers and families to focus on me to support my growth.
Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing, and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and to thrive (Gable & Haidt, 2005, Sheldon & King, 2001).
Working with someone with mutual respect encourages growth and encouragement on both ends. Regardless of what path you choose, there will always be challenges. You will fail. You will get discouraged. A good mentor will encourage you to look at is as a lesson, emphasize what you did well, and help you get better without getting discouraged.
I have always been my greatest critic and put crazy amounts of pressure on myself. It wasn’t until I had a mentor who went out of her way to point out the things I was succeeding in rather than dwelling on my shortcomings that I realized how unhealthy that habit was. More importantly, how much it affected my attitude towards my work.
I have had both bosses and mentors alike who have been so motivated by my growth and success that I also became that motivated. Not only because I wanted to succeed, but also because I wanted to do it for them. I wanted to do good work for people who valued my good work, I wanted to share that energy, and make them proud. Most importantly, it wanted to get to a point where I could be that person for someone else.
Finding A Mentor
The key to a good mentor is someone who shares the same energy as you. Someone who exhibits leadership skills and wants to help you grow.
As mentioned, there isn’t a cookie-cutter definition of who a mentor is. Whereas the majority of my mentors have been previous bosses, my brother has found a lot of guidance from professors he idolized.
In order to find a mentor, you have to find someone who demonstrates the skills you wish to obtain, sees your potential, and can offer guidance. You may get lucky and get assigned one whether it’s through school or a job, but often if you reach out to people through mutual connections or LinkedIn to establish a new relationship, you might be surprised at how many people actually are willing to help you.
Reach out. Invite them to meet for coffee. More often than not, people really do want to help. If they’re unable, ask if they have anyone you could reach out to.
Becoming A Mentor
It’s no secret that we’re all struggling. No one ever has it figured out. But if you have the opportunity to help someone get to their next step, you could possibly change their life. It is my goal to someday give back to all of my mentors by acting as one myself. I wouldn’t consider myself successful, but I wouldn’t be anywhere near what I am if people hadn’t helped get me here.
Once you get to that point in life, or if you’re already there, consider the effect you could have on someone’s growth. Respond to the random message on LinkedIn. Let that college kid buy you coffee. Follow up with helpful advice.