Many people look at the idea of a mentorship as being outdated. Normally what comes to mind is following around some old person trying to make sense of their ramblings about how things were different in the past.
Today, having a mentor can mean so much more, it can mean the difference between achieving personal success and struggling with failure.
Looking for a mentor does take a degree of mental strength to admit you can’t do it alone, and that’s perfectly fine. Most top achievers have had a mentor at one time or another.
Mentorship refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person reach their personal goals and personal success.
The person in receipt of mentorship may be referred to as a protégé, an apprentice…I particularly like padawan.
“Mentoring” is a process that always involves open and honest communication and is a trust based relationship.
It’s difficult to precisely define mentoring and here are two examples:
1 – “Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)”. – a b Bozeman, B.; Feeney, M. K. (October 2007). “Toward a useful theory of mentoring: A conceptual analysis and critique”.
2 – “Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximizes their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.” Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring.
The focus of mentoring is to develop the whole person, very similar to coaching. The specific techniques are diverse and numerous and dependent on the mentor. And in all situations require wisdom in order to be used appropriately.
Mentoring has existed since at least Ancient Greek times in Europe and since the early the 1970s in the United States of America has been accepted. In the beginning it was used mainly in training contexts and it has been described as “an innovation in American management”.
A 1995 study of mentoring techniques most commonly used in business found that the five most commonly used techniques among mentors were -1:
- Accompanying: making a commitment in a caring way, which involves taking part in the learning process side-by-side with the learner.
- Sowing: mentors are often confronted with the difficulty of preparing the learner before he or she is ready to change. Sowing is necessary when you know that what you say may not be understood or even acceptable to learners at first but will make sense and have value to the mentee when the situation requires it.
- Catalyzing: when change reaches a critical level of pressure, learning can jump. Here the mentor chooses to plunge the learner right into change, provoking a different way of thinking, a change in identity or a re-ordering of values.
- Showing: this is making something understandable, or using your own example to demonstrate a skill or activity. You show what you are talking about, you show by your own behavior.
- Harvesting: here the mentor focuses on “picking the ripe fruit”: it is usually used to create awareness of what was learned by experience and to draw conclusions. The key questions here are: “What have you learned?”, “How useful is it?”
Different techniques may be used by mentors according to the situation and the mindset of the padawan. Many techniques stem from ancient education systems, from the Socratic technique of harvesting to the accompaniment method of learning used in the apprenticeship of itinerant cathedral builders during the Middle Ages.
Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool. It is an effective way of helping people to progress in their life and career to reach their personal goals and personal success. It is becoming increasing popular as its potential is realized.
Mentoring is partnership between two people (mentor and mentee) normally working in a similar field or sharing similar life experiences. It is a helpful and effective relationship based upon mutual trust and respect. Again, this is very similar to coaching.
A mentor is a guide who can help the mentee to find the right direction in life and who can help them to develop the skills necessary to navigate through life and career issues.
Mentors rely upon having had similar experiences to gain an empathy with the mentee and an understanding of their issues. Mentoring provides the mentee with an opportunity to think about life and career options and progress.
A mentor helps the mentee to believe in herself and boost her confidence. A mentor should ask questions and challenge, while providing guidance and encouragement.
Mentoring allows the mentee to explore new ideas in confidence. It is a chance to look more closely at yourself, your issues, opportunities and what you want in life.
Mentoring is about becoming more self-aware, taking responsibility for your life and directing your life in the direction you decide, rather than leaving it to chance.
Also, a mentor provides a “model” of beliefs, values and thought process that will support the padawan in their journey.
With a mentor you get to know how they live:
- They can not only show you the ins and outs of a specific life path (career), but also what the other dynamics of that person’s life are like.
- You’ll observe how it affects their personal relationships, their family ties, their friendships.
- You’ll observe what toll it takes on their health.
- How much free time they get.
- How much pressure is put on them.
- How much creative freedom they have or how often they must follow the lead of somebody else.
- When it comes down to it, you can observe how happy that person is in that profession. Remember, your career is something you’ll probably be doing 40 to 60 hours a week.
- It is a big part of your life. You want to feel certain that you like what it is like.
As a coach I often take on the role of mentor, teacher, guide, adviser and enlightener.
In toady’s complex world with so many variables mentoring and coaching are extremely helpful in assisting you in your career as well as help you navigate all of life’s challenges. After all, all your experiences are connected.
I strongly encourage you to find a mentor/coach; it will make all the difference in the world to you. If not me, someone…you owe it to yourself.
If you’d like to investigate the process of mentoring, coaching or guiding, request your Introductory Consultation today by going HERE.
1 – Aubrey, Bob and Cohen, Paul (1995). Working Wisdom: Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations. Jossey Bass. pp. 23, 44–47, 96–97.
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