Mentoring Makes a Difference

Ask any accomplished person to what they attribute their success and you’ll probably hear a story about someone who helped them become the person they are today. In fact, most highly successful people have a mentor (or mentors) who took the time to share their knowledge and experience. Mentorship can come in many forms; you may choose to mentor a child, a young adult, or a less experienced professional. But whatever the case, a mentor can offer a type of constructive guidance unlike that found in any other personal or professional relationship.

Acting as a mentor can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have, both personally and professionally. At the heart of being a mentor is becoming a trusted advisor to your mentee and making yourself available to pass on your knowledge and experience. You’ll offer advice and support intended to help your mentee develop in their career and as a person.

Today’s workplace is changing rapidly and in just a few years Millennials­—people born between 1977 and 1997—will make up almost half of the global workforce. This generation thinks about work in a different way and views it as an integral part of their lives rather than something they “balance” their lives against. They seek work that is meaningful and fulfilling, and they can benefit enormously from the attention and support of a mentor who can guide them toward fulfilling their goal of professional success accompanied by meaning. Acting as a mentor to a such a young professional can allow you to not only participate in their success but contribute on a larger scale as well – to your business or to your community.

A mentor must believe in the person they support both personally and professionally. The best mentor/mentee relationships require vulnerability and honesty. For the relationship to be successful, the mentee has to be comfortable enough to let down their guard and share their insecurities. The best mentors speak not only of their successes, but their failures as well. As well as passing on knowledge, a mentor must strive to inspire. Inspiration is married to emotion, and a successful mentor will infuse knowledge with emotional weight.

While long-term mentoring relationships are a deeply satisfying way to make a significant difference in another person’s life, mentoring can also be short-term or even a one-off incident. Taking half an hour for a coffee with a college student to talk about career opportunities in your field is also a way of mentoring. In my business as a machinery dealer, I often take the time to share aspects of my experience that will be helpful to my customers.

If we as a community develop a mentoring mindset, the benefits will be enormous. As the adage goes, experience is the best teacher. We need to share our experience in a way that will benefit the younger generation, but we need to do this in a way that will not alienate them. Mentoring relationships are just that – relationships – and are based on the give and take of conversation. Mentoring can be a particularly effective way to transmit knowledge to new generations.

Everyone benefits from the mentoring mindset. Young people not only acquire knowledge and skills, but they gain confidence from the relationship itself. Knowing that someone you respect and admire believes in you and is invested in your success gives a powerful boost to your motivation and confidence. And for a mentor, watching a young person succeed with the knowledge that you have played a role in that success is deeply rewarding. Everyone has something valuable to share. If we all adopt the mentoring mindset, we can each play a small role in making the world a better place one person at a time.