Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the closing ceremony in celebration of the completion of a mentoring program for The Association of Change Management Professionals – Toronto Chapter.
Mentoring had been something that took a different shape along my path so the hesitation to speak on something that didn’t take form in the traditional sense was strong. It was also the very reason why I felt inclined to speak on such an important part of a professional’s journey.
To share and validate the value of mentoring in one’s life and to speak to how it can be redefined and experienced in multiple ways. Especially if you had the track record I had – 10 managers in 10 years! Yes, you read correctly. With a revolving door of leaders, mentorship was bleak during the last decade of my career in the traditional sense.
It was difficult to build trust and a relationship with someone who’s likely on their way out within 2 years. I also valued learning across various topics – leadership, sales, entrepreneurship to name a few. On the personal front, spirituality, health and well being.
So, to identify one person as the ‘go-to’ didn’t seem realistic and I began to seek mentorship opportunities through other avenues that were able to impart the wisdom and guidance I was looking for throughout my career.
Those avenues are the very channels I encouraged the group at ACMP to consider as they continue to seek out mentorship opportunities in their journeys.
- Those more experienced than you – leaders/managers, etc. Don’t forget to consider those outside your professional network, i.e. a family member, a trusted friend, etc.
- Peers and colleagues along the way can offer valuable guidance and can sometimes more easily relate to what you’re working through. A leader who’s further along their path may not always be able to offer the sometimes-tactical advice that may be helpful for you that a peer can.
- Those I’d never met refer to those you admire and look up to. Think Oprah, Brene Brown, Marie Forleo, Simon Sinek (these might be mine ;)). Whomever you’ve been following and learn about their work can offer great mentorship. They’re successful in their space, accomplished and depending on what you might be looking for guidance on are always available thanks to the digital world we live in.
- Lastly, as they say, when you learn, teach. As you benefit from mentoring in your own life, how can you pay this forward to someone else coming up behind you? Mentorship then becomes a learning experience where both individuals are benefitting.
As relationships evolve, our mentors can also change. Part of being in a place where you can continue to seek out mentorship is developing the practice of ongoing networking which is a practice of building relationships.
Networking naturally also evolved for me to be one of giving vs. getting something. Giving of my time, giving my energy and taking an interest in another person regardless of what would come out of meeting someone new.
I also optimized all opportunities. Conferences, workshops, seminars, etc. but also, standing in line at Starbucks, my commute ride home or happy hour after work on a Thursday. All opportunities can be networking opportunities to meet people and more importantly remember why I’m ‘networking.’ To build long-term relationships.
If you’re not already regularly networking, how can you make it a part of your schedule? What goal can you set for yourself? This is an opportunity where you can challenge yourself to reframe your perspective and look at networking in a new way.
The value of mentorship in your life is an invaluable experience regardless of where you are in your life. The most talented and successful people have those they go to and look up to for guidance and counsel.
As you look at what mentoring looks like in your own life, I invite you to look for mentorship opportunities in addition to that one person you may go to. Consider how else you can identify mentorship and develop a practice of ongoing networking that allows you to meet people and develop those long-term relationships.
How does mentorship look like in your own life?
Let me know in the comments below!