"If you teach what you learn, it will stick with you for longer." ~Stephen Covey
“If you light a lamp for someone it will also brighten your own path.” ~Buddhist Proverb
Every one of us knows that we should be a mentor to someone, at least I really hope that we know that. But “life” gets in the way for many of us and we quickly focus on what we have to give to be a mentor and not what we will get out of being a mentor. The excuses vary from person to person, but the common ones are:
- I don’t want to make the commitment if I can’t be assured I can follow through.
- I have no extra time.
- I don’t have a candidate that is mentor-worthy.
- I don’t know whether I have anything to teach.
- I don’t know what I should do as a mentor.
Most of these are valid concerns, but when considering whether to move past them, we don’t take into account the enormous benefits you get out of being a mentor. I think that if you look at these carefully, you’ll see that being a mentor is something that is WELL WORTH your time and focus. Some of the main personal benefits of being a mentor are:
Clarifies things – When you need to explain your thought process for how you make decisions, how you handle your team, and how you work it becomes a natural “sanity check” on whether you are doing these things the way you really want to and whether you are getting the result you want. And if you have an engaged mentee, they may ask further questions that dive into those areas more. This should be very enlightening to most of us as we are usually too busy to stop and evaluate our behavior.
Better understanding of the business – The mentee will be able to give you not only an outside perspective on your leadership and the organization you oversee, but will also give you some hands on experience “in the trenches.” Typically you will work through some problems that the mentee is facing in their role to give real world application to your teaching, but this isn’t just one-way learning as you will see how some of your initiatives are actually being put into place.
Setting the example – Like I stated in my first sentence, we all know we should be doing this. We should be investing in others, we should be sharing our knowledge, and we should be planning for the future. When people actually see you doing it, they will know that you are focused on doing the right things and the things you should do. Also, do you know who are mentors? Leaders are mentors. If you want to be viewed as a leader in your organization, do something that a leader would.
Personal satisfaction – And let’s not forget one of the best benefits of mentoring; the satisfaction that comes from helping someone else grow in their career and know how best to lead their team. Doing good benefits you just as much as it does the other person.
So when considering becoming a mentor, don’t just focus on the effort that you will have to put towards the endeavor. Focus also on how much you will get out of the mentorship on a personal and professional level. I think you find that tips the scales in an entirely different direction and leads to a different answer.
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