Mentoring… Speakers (and everyone else) need it.

Mentoring… what does that word mean to you?

Have you ever asked anyone that question?  I have.  I am frequently surprised by how often I am told it is a person with whom one has an official learning relationship.

Official!?!  What’s that?  It is at least a question of, “Will you be my mentor?”  and an acknowledgment of taking on the challenge.  But do you need all that to have a mentor?  I don’t think so!

Mr. Hoffman has been my mentor for a very long time.  Almost 28 years. Has he ever said, “Yes, Michael.  I would be happy to be your mentor.”?  Again… Don’t think so!

Jeff Bailey points us to a great article on finding a mentor.  It is written for photography but has some good points for anyone seeking a mentor.  But you should remember something else… you may already have a mentor.

Merriam-Webster defines a mentor as a trusted counselor or guide.  Mr. Hoffman has always been around to lend counsel when I need it.  He has always reinforced my good traits and helped me figure out what I may wish to do next.  Does anyone do that for you?  Your mom, best friend, uncle?  Your mentor is whoever gives you guidance, whoever you regularly go to for advice.

But the question must be asked, “Is having a mentor a big deal?”  Yes!  And so is being a mentor.  Toastmasters finds it important enough to help teach its members to be mentors.  Danny, a reader here, even commented that people should generally be supportive and positive toward each other.

Mentoring even comes into play in ancient learning models.  Americans get their learning model from ancient Greece.  The lecturer, classroom, and leader model.  Where the class gathers around the professor and listens and then asks questions.  However, In “Mentoring 101“, John Maxwell taught me about the ancient Hebrew model.  You can call it the mentoring model.  John calls it the on-the-job training model.  Where you bring a mentee with you as you do your work, so they can learn to do it.  The beauty of this model is that someone is always learning the next job and can either take over for you allowing you to move on, or they can also do the job allowing you to expand your company’s capacity.  More importantly, mentoring allows you to help make another person’s life better, make the world better, and make yourself a better person by giving of yourself.

Mentoring should be a word used more often in common discussions.  Everyone should have people from which they learn, people from different backgrounds that can advise them from different perspectives.  You can have one person who shows you the ropes and guides you in your career.  Someone ahead of you, who has been there.  Maybe you have another person whose advice you seek when raising your own children.  This person can be someone who has raised their own kids.  Often, it is a parent or grandparent.

So now when you think of it, do you have any mentors?  Can you name people who have offered your guidance and advice?  Can you name people you have gone to when you didn’t know the answer?  Can you name people who have helped by being in your life and influencing your decisions and actions?

You probably can.  So here is another question…  can you name people who you have influenced, guided, and mentored?

If you have, I would love to hear about it.  You may have heard that I am writing a book.  Your stories could be featured in that book and your experiences in mentoring and being mentored would add greatly to my research on mentoring.  Would you mind answering four easy questions about your experiences?  If so, visit this survey and speak your mind.

What do you think about mentoring?

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