Why Mentorship Is Really Worth Your Effort
Life is a game that needs to be played, a tune that needs your best dance. This same life happens in seasons, some of which are awaited, and their arrival is well known but some, arrive unannounced; Unannounced because we were distracted, and they caught us off-guard or they arrived earlier than expected. Just like every human is peculiar, so is how each handles these seasons in life. While some individuals slide into every season with grace, adjust and flourish, most of us need awakening, a tap in the back, a whisper giving a clue of what we have that will validate our survival for the season.
At birth, you were so fragile, vulnerable and were dependent on your parents/ guardians. As you grew, you gained strength and skills to do most things and with time you became independent. In learning institutions, we interact with educators who teach us the skills we need in our specialty, after which we graduate and by the powers vested in us, go out to serve the world. One season that is most confusing in life is when you get your first employment. Mixed feelings fly at this moment because not only are you a starting new, beautiful season as a taxpayer, but you are so naïve and clueless on what is expected of you since the curriculum in learning institutions omitted this training.
Training and orientation are crucial for new entrants in all industries, but things on the ground……are different. To cut on costs, most companies and organizations welcome new entrants with just a few explanations and leave it up to you to figure out the rest as you go along. This is literally baptism by fire. If you are lucky, you will get a kind colleague who will patiently guide you and familiarize you with the process. On the contrary, if you find colleagues that have bad attitudes and are a frustrated lot, who are unwilling to offer you support, then you fry your way to enlightenment.
Do you have a mentor in life? How are you making use of that gift of mentorship?
Whatever your case may be, it is up to you to determine how you will show up, thrive and overcome all the setbacks you will face. This is where mentorship comes to play. See, in every industry, there are professionals who have years of experience, who have executed they duties with integrity, who have failed forward and gathered lessons that come in handy for newcomers. These professionals are often, individuals who are willing and interested to share the in-depth knowledge of the craft with youngsters that come after them; that will confidently approach them and express their interest to learn and to be mentored. These professionals will gladly set aside time to walk with you, to show you the tricks, to share their life lessons and it will be their pleasure to give you an opportunity to create yourself, as Steve Spielberg would allude.
So you have approached a professional you look up to at work, or through ELF’s Leadership Development & Mentorship Program, you have been paired to a mentor according to your area of interest; for your relationship to thrive, you need to practice some of the tips shared below;
- Be teachable – Show up and respect your mentor’s time. When you agree on a date and time to meet, show up on time and ready for the session
- Be very clear regarding your expectations – In your first interaction with your mentor, clearly outline what you struggle with and need mentorship in, and your clear expectations from the mentoring relationship (It is always about the mentee, so it is up to you to drive the conversation)
- Honesty – Always voice out any concerns or doubts. If you feel you are not gaining any knowledge or growth from your mentor, have that candid conversation with your mentor. Going back to the drawing can guarantee better results
- Commitment – You need to be intentional with the mentoring relationship to guarantee your growth. Submit any assignments and your progress report to your mentor. It doesn’t matter how much potential your mentor sees in you, if you are not commitment to the process, you will remain stagnant.
- Ask the right questions – “The answer to any problems preexists. We need to ask the right questions to reveal the answers” ~ Jonas Salk
- Be present in the moment – In the engagements with your mentor, you should be interested, listen and take notes. It is in those ‘By the ways’ in experience sharing that real answers reside. Through stories, you will learn important lessons from your mentor e.g. You can learn how to deal with frustrations, haters and competition in the workplace.
I would like two celebrate two professionals who have given of their time to guide me, point me in the right direction and cheer me on; my mentors Ms. Patience Nyange & Ms. Bianca Malata. Thank you for your passion to grow the next generation of values-based, thriving leaders. I honor you for your service of Mentorship to the world.
Do you have a mentor in life? How are you making use of that gift of mentorship? If at all you are being mentored, have you picked up the challenge to mentor one or two students in Primary or high schools? Are you passing on what you have learnt and giving time to mentor, in order to create a ripple effect?
Food for thought.
Stella Cheboi-Programs officer, Leadership Development