Heeding advice common for young professionals, I sought out a mentor early in my career. At the time, my perception of mentoring was that of a formal relationship where the topics were "strictly business", so to speak. I wanted to impress my mentor, so I took great care to to be prepared with an agenda and maintain a professional image at every meeting. Thankfully, my mentors saw this as an opportunity. They removed the formalities by building a relationship with me, helping me find my purpose, and guiding me toward solutions rather than ticking off answers to my agenda topics.
At the time, I was confused. I thought a mentor was supposed to have all the answers to my problems. My perception was shattered a few years ago when I received the book "The Heart of Mentoring" by David Stoddard. In the book, Stoddard shared how mentoring is about two people, mentor partners, giving of themselves to help the other person.
My favorite learnings from the book include:
- Living is about giving; giving of yourself (time, wisdom, etc) to other people. It's true, there is no greater satisfaction than focusing on helping others.
- Great mentors help their mentor partners find and pursue their passions.
- A mentor will meet their mentor parter wherever they are in life, however messy or problematic it is.
- The role of a mentor is to guide their mentor partner how to solve problems, with insights from their life experience as well as shared values and character.
I hope you benefit from as enriching of mentoring experiences as I have. If you are interested in reading The Heart of Mentoring, it is available here.