By David Maynard
I bet you know someone who is very successful in a specific area but doesn’t think they are qualified to be a mentor. In some ways, being a mentor is like being a parent. You don’t have to be the best parent in the world; you just have to make an effort to be a good parent. Basically what I am getting at is that everyone has something to offer that someone else can benefit from.
I always like to use real life examples so let’s look at one here. I have a friend who has achieved a lot in her life that has come from humble beginnings. She put herself through school and earned her bachelors and later an M.B.A. She is also a homeowner. She did all this while being single. I have recommended to her that she should think about being a mentor and her reaction was “Who would want to be mentored by me?” Well, my response to that question is….quite a few people. There is no official roadmap to life, and if there is it would need constant revising because the steps would probably become obsolete in today’s environment. Navigating what you want and where you want to be is mostly trial and error and a little bit of luck thrown in. We must also keep in mind that life is a journey and that if we obtained and did everything we wanted easily there would be no journey.
We also have to be realistic about what we want. If it is success we need to clearly understand what is considered to be successful. If our image of success is Oprah Winfrey type achievement not everyone is going to reach that level. There a few factors that came into play for her including luck, being in the right place at the right time, and a supportive network that green lighted her show. It should be noted however, that Roger Ebert was instrumental in encouraging her to reach her level of success so in a sense he was sort of a mentor to her. Had he not done so, we would never know this remarkable woman who has touched so many lives across the television screen. Getting back on topic, in a previous post entitled “Why Mentors Need Mentors” I discussed how a person never really stops growing and evolving. Even though they may have reached a certain level of attainment, having a mentor is still beneficial at that particular level.
So keeping these things in mind, you have a lot to offer as a mentor, particularly to those who find it hard to obtain advice and direction. The other piece about being a mentor is to know when you have guided your mentoree as far as you can and at that point suggesting they move onto someone else that can take them beyond that. When you get to the point where you feel you are not adding anything valuable to your mentoree’s journey that’s probably the best time to step back, hopefully take on someone new and help them along the way.