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Why Being a Mentor Matters

10 lessons I learned and why you should mentor in 2020 too!

Photo by Helena Lopes

All of us have mentors in our life. Whether it’s a youth mentor in secondary school, career mentor in university, a professional mentor at work, or a business mentor in your entrepreneurial journey, you will agree that all of us have benefited from the wisdom of our great mentors and how they have changed our lives. 

I have to admit I didn’t realise the benefits from being a mentor until I became one. As a career mentor with two universities mentoring networks here, I learned that being an effective mentor is beyond telling our mentees what and how to do things. Instead, our role is to help them grow by providing the knowledge and wisdom, so that we can help them soften the shocks and consequences of gaining a possibly bad experience first-hand. Besides the serious stuff, being a mentor also means being a ‘friendtor’ to our mentees, as they see you as a support system and a cheerleader. Here are 10 key take-aways from my involvement in the mentoring programmes.

1. Reinforce your skills and knowledge

When you share your expertise and experience with your mentees, you are reinforcing what you know by transferring the knowledge to them. You also get a chance to reflect on your years of practice with the insights you provide them. By doing so, it not only helps to accelerate their growth but also encourage them to embark on a similar journey – only now, with more confidence. 

2. Increase your confidence and motivation

By sharing stories of your life and career journey, you are exuding confidence about your skills and capabilities. When your mentee can relate to these, it becomes a source of motivation for you to do much more to help them. You never learn something so completely till you teach it to another person. At the same time, by exchanging views with your mentees, you get to understand how they perceive things and issues as the youth of today.

3. Enhances your emotional intelligence

Mentoring helps you to be more mindful and shift your thoughts towards appreciating and respecting other people, especially the younger ones. It enhances your self-awareness and avoid having the thought that someone is incompetent or incapable. Having higher emotional intelligence helps you to build stronger relationships with your mentees and achieve your goals in the programme.

4. Practice interpersonal and listening skills

The mentoring programmes involve heavy interaction and conversations. Thus, while sharing is good, it is even more crucial to be active listeners. It is essential to hear our mentees out and not only to point out their mistakes. While we may be tempted to give them all the answers, try not to. Instead, engage in discussions by sharing your thoughts and get them to decide on the best course of action.

5. We become their cheerleader

As mentors, we become our mentees’ greatest cheerleaders. Always show support and enthusiasm and provide guidance or successful examples of how we did it in the past. I make it a big deal to celebrate every small achievement my mentee makes – because it means a lot to them. When we show that we are rooting for our mentees, it help them break their barriers and build confident and resilient youth.

6. Bring out the best in them

Mentees see us, mentors, as their source of inspiration. Take time to get to know them, their interests, passions, dreams, and what drives and motivates them. Once you understand their strengths and weaknesses, you will be able to work on goals that will bring the best out of them to succeed. 

7. Direct access to Gen Z and their behaviours

What better way than getting direct intelligence information about what makes and breaks our Millennials and Gen Z by hearing directly from the horse’s mouth! The interactions with your mentees on a personal and in-depth knowledge level can help you understand what their personal ad professional aspirations are. That way, you can develop programmes and sessions that can be aligned to meeting their career goals.

8. Expand your network

Being part of the mentoring programme is not only beneficial for your mentees but also for the mentor tribe. We get a chance to exchange our ideas, views, and increase our circle of friends from different industries and expertise. It also opens up new opportunities for possibly a new career shift or even explore new business deals.

9. Gives a sense of fulfillment

Beyond sharing of knowledge, as a mentor, you act as a professional and psycho-social support group for your mentees (and sometimes fellow mentors too!). While some of us get paid, you may do it as a personal fulfillment or a chance to pay it forward to your community. Whatever our reasons are, give your full commitment, be excited, and enjoy the ride.

10. Channel your positive vibes

As mentors, we model positive attitudes and vibes. Demonstrate and teach our mentees traits that will bring them far like hard work, resilience, patience, grit, a sense of curiosity, adventure, and continuous learning. Share with them materials, videos, courses, workshops and connect them with people such recruitment consultants that can make them be more prepared and career ready.

Over the years, mentors have played a significant role in my success as a professional and now as an entrepreneur. From a being a guide, a motivator, a teacher, an adviser and, to someone who ‘kicks my butt occasionally’ to give me a wake-up call, they are nothing short of a guiding angel. In life, there is always someone who needs your advice, and for you to give them the reason not to be afraid to take the first step. So be that positive person and make a difference in one’s life – today.

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