Friday, July 26, 2013

Career By Design: Mentoring

Tonight I had a wonderful experience.  I was given just a few moments and the right opportunity to pour into a young woman with her whole life ahead of her.  I wasn't expecting it to be so moving.  I thought that I might meet some nice girls who needed some advice, but the truth is, I received so much joy from spurring someone on to persevere.

While I'm not an expert Mentor, I know the value of being a Protege.  I recently developed a local program for young professionals to connect with established leaders in order to help them grow during a fast-paced, high-potential time called Protege Chattanooga, but I think a key part of being mentored, is finding someone to pour into.

I wanted to share 5 reasons why mentoring rocks:

1. You're a catalyst.  Sometimes all the fuel for the fire is already there, but it needs something to ignite it.  Imagine simply striking an idea in the heart of a young person who eventually stumbles upon the cure for cancer.  Imagine encouraging a high school drop out to go back and power through so that they can know what it feels like to finish what they started.  And if that same person starts again and finishes the process of starting a business that provides for his future.

2.  The true spirit of mentoring has a domino effect & exponential reach.  The spirit of giving is contagious and knowledge is in high demand.  Get a solid ROI on one of your most precious investments, your time.

3. Your community becomes broader.  Connecting with others builds a network of resources for the mentor as well as your own network.

4. There's something almost magical about connecting with someone like the former you.  Even if you have a million differences, one commonality can transcend those differences.  Unlike a child, you're not responsible for the outcome of the decisions they make.  You give, they make a choice on what to do with what they learn.

5. You will learn something.  No matter where you are at in life, there's always something to learn.  Learn about a different culture, learn about what the "cool" young kids are doing, learn about the needs in a community.  Mentorship opens up opportunities to learn beyond the headlines of a newspaper.  

These are the top 5 reasons I came up with after just a few minutes of reflecting on my experience today.  I'm sure there are other more eloquent lists of reasons to be a mentor as well.  I made my list so that I could go back and reflect on my "why" during this next part of my journey.

I always thought I would mentor when I knew more, but the reality is that your experience can help others right now.  Just today, I thought about how much value I would receive from simple parenting tips or ways to not go crazy (as a rookie SAHM).  But then I also thought about some of the tips I've learned in the past that would be helpful to another mom (I'm almost a 10 year veteran at this, can you believe it?!?!).  

I hope to document my imperfect mentorship journey, but I hope that I can hear about some of your journeys as well.

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