Turn on the news on any given day, and you will hear numerous stories about horrific things going on in the world, highlighting all the callous and criminal things people can do to one another. It can be disheartening, to say the least.
But peppered in there are human interest stories that show how loving, kind and generous we can be as humans. This got me thinking.
Over nearly two decades, I have seen River facilitate and support thousands of mentoring relationships. People have been helped, supported, guided, advised, listened to, and made to feel valuable and worthwhile, all because they took part in mentoring. On a micro level, this can change the course of a person’s life. On a macro level, I’d simply say that mentoring brings out the best in us. Here are three ways that can happen.
Altruism: Looking out for someone and giving selflessly to others are common occurrences in most mentoring relationships. These types of actions are what make mentoring such a wonderful practice. The very act of being there for your mentoring partner can make you think about more than yourself in that moment. This mentality does not have to be limited to how the mentor treats the mentee, either. It should cross boundaries and embed itself in how we treat others regardless of our role.
Self-reflection: One of the most valuable mentoring outcomes is, during the process of helping someone else, we can get to know ourselves better. A mentoring relationship gives you the space and permission for self-reflection, where you can dig into your thoughts, feelings and motivations. A mentoring partner can help you ask yourself the hard questions, help hold you accountable, and be a sounding board for you as you attempt to improve yourself. Today’s overstimulated world can be a difficult one in which to find time for self-reflection and mindfulness. A mentoring relationship offers a perfect way to find pockets of quiet time to engage in meaningful self-reflection.
Constant development: Growth is a critical component of mentoring: growth in skills, growth in maturity and growth in ideas. Most adults are continuous learners, as that desire to learn doesn’t stop simply because we are no longer in school. Mentoring relationships are designed to support that constant growth and development, and the best part is that mentees and mentors benefit from these growth opportunities. A mentoring relationship may focus on the mentee’s development goals, but the mentor also will grow and develop as they guide, listen, advise and support the mentee. This is why so many mentoring participants report positive feelings about their relationships; the benefits are mutual.
Mentoring is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for one another. I’m grateful to the mentors I’ve had in my life, and I remain humbled by the mentees who have sought my advice. Now go mentor.
Laura Francis is the director of marketing for River, a mentoring software company. To comment, email editor@CLOmedia.com.