A mentor is defined as a trusted and wise adviser, and mentoring is the act of being an adviser to those less experienced in their career. Mentoring takes many forms and is the backbone of the Big Brother Big Sister program, nursing and teaching programs, as well as, partnering experienced staff with those still learning and growing in their careers.
But where does mentoring come from? The story of Mentor comes from Homer’s Odyssey. The king, Odysseus, fights in the Trojan War and while he is gone he entrusts the care of his household and family to Mentor, who serves as teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son. Mentor works with Odyssey’s son to help him become a man who would inspire his father’s pride. This is the birth of mentoring, to help and advise others.
After attending a recent #MentoringMonday event sponsored by Bizwomen.com, it inspired me. How did you get here? What did you learn along the way? Who guided your career? What drove your success? These are all questions I’ve asked others successful in their careers and that I have been asked by those new to our company and industry.
Sharing your business journey by connecting with those who are just starting their career or making a major career change can shed light on an idea or obstacle that previously had been unidentified. When I started my career at DAVIS I had the worst statistics of anyone in the history of our company, but I stuck with it…and 27 years later I have managed to build a career that I love. Everyone thinks success comes easily…and it NEVER does. By sharing this story, people understand persistence, resilience and that hard work can and will pay off.
What drove your success? Success comes from within. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. If you’re not focused, driven and anxious to succeed, how do you think you will succeed? In college I sold clothing at the mall. We had a contest to sell custom made wool-winter coats. I was focused, I talked about coats, I was excited about coats, and I knew everything there was to know about these winter coats. And I sold a lot of winter coats. The surprising part is that I was in Arizona where there is not much need or call for 100% wool winter coats, but I was driven, I was focused and I sold winter coats while it was 80 degrees outside.
But mentoring isn’t just about telling your story or sharing your successes, it’s about listening and connecting with others. Help them see opportunities, brainstorm how to handle new situations, aid them to learn from their experiences and maybe, just maybe, learn from you and your history, too. Mentoring is a two-way street. Relationships develop, ideas are shared and both parties can come away with a new vision.
Mentoring is an on-going initiative that requires both work and commitment to lead to a relationship that is fruitful for both parties. Does your company have a mentorship program? Tell us about it below.