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4 Lessons I Learned from Mentoring

February 28, 2017Throughout my life, I’ve had the good fortune of meeting amazing people who have mentored me along the way. I consider myself blessed to have met these people, as they’ve all played a significant role in shaping the person I am today. 

Early in my career I didn't thoroughly understand what mentorship was or how it worked. I was lucky that my mentor relationships formed organically, but as my career progressed I began to understand how much of an impact my mentors had on me, and that I too made an impact on them. 

The most important thing I learned is that mentorship is a two-way street. Your mentor is there to listen, to offer advice (remember, constructive criticism is a good thing), and to help in any way he or she can. However, it’s equally important that you offer what you can in return, even if that simply means offering your mentor a different perspective or insight into your world. Believe it or not, you can help mentors as much as they help you, sometimes even more! This reciprocity strengthens the bond and trust between you and your mentor, which can help your relationship grow into something very meaningful for both of you.

Another form of mentorship that resonates with me is peer mentorship, which can sometimes be even more impactful than a traditional mentoring relationship. My peers have supported and taught me so much, and I’ve tried to do the same for them. We’re growing and moving up in the business together, and one day we’ll be leading businesses together, so it’s important to help one another along the way. That makes a lot of sense to me. 

Last but not least, once you’ve had some great mentorship experiences, I believe you owe it to yourself and the world to go out there and pay it forward. Whether that is through championing the success of others, or holding someone up through missteps, we can all pay it forward and share what we’ve learned. 

If you take away anything from my message, I hope it's these four key elements to mentorship:

1.    Listening is key: Sometimes mentors mistake hearing for listening. Active listening promotes trust and respect, helps to resolve problems, and promotes better understanding of people.

2.    Mentorship is a two-way street: Being a mentor offers so much more than simply feeling good about helping others. You develop strong leadership skills, gain new perspectives, and the lessons you teach can also serve as reminders to yourself to follow your own good advice! 
 
3.    Peer mentorship is extremely valuable: This is your opportunity to support your peers, while further strengthening your network and building leadership capabilities.

4.    Pay it forward: As a mentor or a colleague, remember to pay it forward throughout your career. Take a new employee for coffee, help someone with a problem, or offer yourself as a mentor to a bright young star. There are so many ways that you can offer your support to others, you’re sure to find a few that resonate with you.