The power of mentorsTo be successful in life, you need a little help. Especially in the form of an advisor or mentor. Someone to train you in the best way to do your job or show you the best way to live life. Someone to point out the pitfalls along the way. Someone to springboard you into the future so you can accomplish more in a shorter period of time … and therefore have the opportunity to move on to greater things.

In many trades, workmen advance through various stages from apprentice to craftsman. In the beginning, they follow around and assist a journeyman as a form of on-the-job training. Watching. Asking questions. Attempting tasks themselves. Listening to correction. Eventually doing it themselves and gaining confidence until they are released to work independently. (This progression also occurs in other fields under the guise of interns or student teachers.)

Those on the student side of the mentoring relationship have a lot to learn if we are willing to listen and ask the right questions. Don’t simply acquire the necessary skills but find out why the mentor does things in a particular way. While they might duplicate the way it’s “always been done,” they could have learned time-saving tricks through the years or adapted to changes.

For those on the teaching side, be patient and remember how far you’ve come. We all had to learn from somebody, not to mention what we’ve gleaned from the school of hard knocks. Do others a favor and let them know what you’ve tried and why it didn’t work out.

I find myself on both sides of the mentoring relationship at the same time.

As the mother of a teenaged daughter with special needs, I’m navigating uncharted waters. Except countless families have passed this way before and can point the way. I also remember what it was like to juggle new motherhood and numerous doctor and therapy appointments and can pass along insights to those just starting this journey. In fact, that’s the main reason I wrote Making Lemonade: Parents Transforming Special Needs. And why I’m speaking to several parent groups this year.

As a writer, I’m still growing in my craft (especially in fiction) and continue to read books and magazines on writing topics. Yet, I’ve also learned a lot about blogging, critiquing, self-publishing, and marketing – all topics that others want to explore. I soak up and apply information on the one hand and then pass it on to others.

While I have lot to learn, I have just as much to share. I’m not alone. Everyone needs a mentor. And everyone can be one.

What about you? In what areas of life do you need a mentor? How do you find one? In what areas are you able to help others? Are you passing along what you’ve learned?

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