“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside of you.” - Oprah Winfrey
In the past, I’ve always said, “Experience is the best teacher”. Now, when I think about that quote, I think to myself, “How absurd!!” I’m sure we all have our “How did I even consider/think that” moments, and it’s okay. We live, we learn, and we grow.
For me, it took going through a lot on my own and falling short so many times to finally accept that I didn’t have to do life or any of the other stuff on my own. It took being extremely overwhelmed by the littlest things all the time to finally accept that I did not have to experience everything from a point of ignorance and progressively, that I didn’t have to experience some things at all; especially not when I am surrounded by powerful and inspiring women and men whom I admire and look up to. These are people who have done all the things I dreamed of doing plus more, who were willing to share with me, to lift me, give me light, empower me.
Having a mentor goes far beyond having an official “Office Hour” with someone. It is about having a guardian, a teacher, a connector, a confidant, and a cheerleader. Your mentor is the person you want to talk with when you feel overwhelmed making ”life-altering” decisions.
Research shows that there are countless reasons why having a mentor is advisable. Below we shine light on three of those reasons.
1. Experience doesn’t have to be your best teacher (or only teacher)
I know we have all, at one point in our lives, believed that the best way to learn is to experience. That is ‘if you do not go through it, you wouldn’t appreciate the learnings’ (--sorry, but I think that is a personal choice). Your mentor is your cheat sheet. Having a mentor means you have an inside source; someone who knows the answers, someone with the right experiences, someone there to point out the invisible holes so that you don’t fall as they did. Now, tell me, what’s better than that? “Why fail when I have a cheat sheet and can excel by using it?” “Why struggle when you don’t have to?” Your mentor agrees to share their experiences with you so you don’t have to go through everything from a place of uncertainty and fear.
2. The right mentor will help you excel
From Mahatma Gandhi mentoring Nelson Mandela to Maya Angelou mentoring Oprah Winfrey, and Michelle Robinson (now Michelle Obama) mentoring Barack Obama (ICONIC!), countless other great achievers attest the effectiveness of having a mentor. A mentor can foster your advancement in your field and connect you with opportunities that you might not have learned about or had access to. Best case, your mentors have the potential to identify opportunities in your path and open doors for you. Whether it happens through them recommending you to their networks, pushing you to go for that opportunity, or guiding you through starting that business or initiative you’ve always dreamed of, your mentor is your cheerleader and wants the best for you.
3. Two heads are better than one
True to the proverb, it is beneficial to have the advice or opinion of other people. More than just any other person whom you could ask for advice, mentors are resources you can leverage for more informed pieces of advice.. Your mentor (or mentors) are resources you can leverage to aid your navigation of the complex worlds of career, friendship, family, relationships and so on. These are people who are willing and eager to share their knowledge, skills, expertise, and professional contacts with you. Not sure how to tackle that assignment? Want to talk through that job offer? Having and talking things through with your mentor(s) will take you a long way.
Having a mentor can be very beneficial to your personal development and career growth. In fact, many people recommend having more than one mentor, each serving a different purpose. Next time, I look forward to indulging you in my perspective of how you can get started in your search for a mentor. Till we meet again, au revoir, les amis :)!