“A mentor is not someone who gives you advice. A mentor is someone whose advice you follow.”
Being a mentor is one of the most unique and beneficial relationships one can have. It’s unique because it requires both individuals to willing to accept their role as the mentor or mentee. This is not something that can be forced. Rather, it is a relationship built on the mutual need to give and receive advice and support.
Even though most people will agree that there is value in being or mentor or having a mentor, most people do not have an intentional relationship with a mentor!
We all admit that we need help, and don’t want to allow other people rear lights be our headlights. But in reality, most people do not make themselves vulnerable enough to admit that they need a mentor. And even worse, people tend to devalue their life experiences and shy away from being a mentor to other people.
I love what the late Dr. Myles Munroe said, “Success without a successor is failure.” What good is knowledge if it is not shared with future generations? What good is success if it can’t be replicated? Who will be able to start their life journey based on the knowledge of yours?
Here are 5 Keys to Mentoring Effectively to help you start your mentoring journey.
- Empathy/empathetic understanding. One of the most effective was to establish trust, and allow people to open up to you is to show empathy. Empathy is simply the ability to understand and share the feeling of others. This does not mean that you have had to have the exact same experience as the person you mentor. But it does mean that you can relate to the feelings that they are expressing. Acknowledging their feelings, and reflecting on a time where you felt a similar emotion is a great first step in establishing trust.
- High positive expectations. Everyone needs a coach. Everyone needs someone who can call greatness out of someone, and hold them to a higher standard. A great mentor will have the capacity to see the greatness that is inside their mentee and not allow them to settle for anything less than accomplishing the goals they have mutually established.
- Advocacy. Knowing that someone believes in you, and will go the extra mile to support you is something that is rare these days. Having a support system of people who are on your side no matter what is something that provides fuel to any relationship. Especially to the person you are mentoring!
- 12-months or longer and frequent positive contact. Consistency and commitment tend to be to the biggest issue with mentors. Being a mentor requires being intentional in the relationships that you spend time with, and with assessing what is important to you. Remember, a person is a mentor because that’s who they already are, not because its what they are trying to do. The mentoring relationship should be a natural extension of who you already are.
- Relationships focus on strengths rather than deficits. The last key of focusing on strengths rather than deficits can be challenging. It can be easy to see what’s wrong, and what to address the issues that need to be developed in a person. But if you truly want to be a transformational mentor, focus on the strengths of the person and what they are doing right. By focusing on their strength you reinforce their self-esteem and belief in their potential. Remember what Proverbs 18:16 says, “A man’s gift will make room for him, and bring him before great men.” Your mentees gift and strengths will open doors for them. Therefore, you should focus on developing their strengths, rather than being frustrated with their weakness.
VISIT www.freddiescott.org to connect with Freddie and find out more about his work in the community.
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