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Mentor or Imposter?

The Power of Mentoring

Being a Mentor is an honor and responsibility
Being a Mentor is an honor and responsibility

The first time I heard someone refer to me as their “mentor,” I felt embarrassed and ashamed rather than happy and proud. Me? This accomplished young executive had clearly made some mistake. Turns out, I was suffering from “imposter syndrome,” a phenomenon prevalent in today’s business environment. 

Dr. Valerie Young is an expert on the subject and breaks it down in her book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.

“Do you want to stop feeling like an impostor?” she writes. “Then you have to stop thinking like an impostor, and rewriting your inner rule book is hands-down the best place to start.”

When presented with this first opportunity to mentor someone, I buckled down, got out of my own way, and embraced the moment. I basked in the glory of this bright executive’s confidence and trust. I listened closely, offered insight and guidance based on her specific situation, and basically used my “spidey” instincts to create an open dialog. I shared everything applicable from my 25+ years of experience.  

I wasn’t an expert in her area of need, but I cared enough to donate my time and invest in her success. It turned out my decades of hard-won expertise did help her in many ways. Being a mentor simply meant showing up, giving my all and offering positive and practical insights to move her forward in any way I could.

Ah, indeed, I was a mentor after all… and it felt good!

“At its core, being a mentor is being a trusted advisor. It can mean a lot of different things, but it all boils down to making yourself available to support and advise someone when they need it, delivering that support in a way that makes sense to them, and always, always keeping that person’s best interests in mind.”

– Lindsey Kolowich, Hubspot

Since then, my journey in life has been enhanced tremendously by taking the leap into becoming a mentor for many people.  These experiences add extra commitments to my busy schedule but the pay-off (i.e, a paycheck of the heart) makes them amazing and worthy investments in other people’s success. 

I highly recommend looking into formal or informal opportunities to give of your time and experience.  You too have gifts and experience that will help someone in ways you might not predict. Helping others succeed and rise above makes the world a little sweeter each day.

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