When I say “mentor,” what comes to mind for you? Do you think about someone serving at-risk youth through a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters? Or do you envision a tenured manager having coffee with a new hire and helping her craft a plan to ask for a raise? Or maybe you picture an entrepreneur soliciting advice from a peer who has managed to sell a business for millions.
My own experience with mentorship took place primarily at Procter & Gamble. I had several mentors assigned to me during my 15 years there, and I was a mentor to many others during that same time. While my mentors were each truly impressive teachers who helped me navigate a rather complicated system, the term “mentor” itself just never struck a chord with me. It always felt stuffy and formal, maybe even a little forced. Worse yet, sometimes I felt like just having a mentor made me somehow appear weak or needy. (How’s that for honesty?) I’m a pretty smart cookie with a wicked independent streak, and I like to figure things out for myself! So when I left my corporate life, I thought I’d left the world of mentorship behind as well.
Until I came across an eye-opening blog post a couple of years ago by Dale Partridge.
As I read Dale’s post and reflected on the model he outlined, it became clear that I’ve had FAR more mentors than just the ones assigned to me at P&G, and that mentoring high achieving women is exactly what I’ve been doing with my life through my coaching practice.
At the core, mentorship is a safe and vulnerable relationship between two people. Typically one is older (and wiser) and the other (the mentee) is younger and untrained. The goal for the mentor is to both teach and hand down legacy. The goal of the mentee is to grow and learn from the mentor.
He goes on to outline two critical roles for the mentor.
Reveal Blind Spots: The mentor should help their protege see obstacles and dangers they do not see. This could be anything from bad habits and attitude adjustments to bad business decisions and red flags.
Provide Shortcuts: The mentor has insight, leverage, clarity, and history. From these areas of expertise, they can offer accelerated transit toward the mentee’s goals.”
Forbes also posted a recent article on 8 Tips For An Amazing Mentor Relationship. It’s good information to check out if you have a chance.
The main idea is that every high achieving woman could benefit from having a mentor. Who doesn’t need insight, leverage, clarity and history poured into her, especially in the early days of motherhood or another major life change? But what if you don’t know anyone personally who can mentor you and share her secrets?
You are smart and independent, and you can figure it out on your own. But you don’t have to.
The right mentor can save you time and energy as you balance your callings and commitments at work and at home. Maybe it’s time to give yourself that advantage.
Everyone needs a mentor.
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