There are many roles we play in our lives. We are professionals, family members, brothers, sisters, co-workers, leaders, coaches, friends, parents, and neighbours, to name just a few. While you may not wear all of the ‘hats’, you can likely add several more that in addition to those listed! Many of these roles are a given – we don’t have much choice of having the role – as they come with being a responsible adult.
As we often find ourselves having many roles and little time, it may seem absurd to write an article that encourages taking on yet another role and adding another task to your over-booked calendar. But, despite the competition for our time and energy, being a mentor is one of the best things you can do.
There are many reasons why being a mentor is valuable to the other person. They get the value of your expertise, knowledge, and experience. They get a chance to advance more rapidly and create greater success than they would have been able to achieve without your insight and advice. While these are altruistic reasons, they don’t say anything about how you benefit. And while we all like to help others, sometimes we need to see what is in it for us as well.
There are benefits to you personally in spending your time and energy, sharing your expertise with others as a mentor. In fact, there are at least nine benefits that you might derive from being a mentor. These include:
1. You will develop a close relationship with the person you mentor. We can never have enough close relationships. And chances are the person you mentor will be someone you benefit from being around. After all, they are interested in improving themselves, care about learning, and are likely excited about the possibilities in their future.
2. You will be re-energized personally. Get around someone enthusiastic, and you naturally become more enthusiastic yourself. Some activities sap our energy while others spark it. Being a mentor is like carrying a box of matches with you. If you want to re-energize yourself to your own possibilities, be a mentor.
3. You will increase your commitment to your own career and organization. This one applies most if you are mentoring in a business situation. You can see how this would happen – as you get more enthused, you see new ways you can contribute. You see how your ‘student’ can make a difference in the organization and this new vision will increase your commitment.
4. You will learn more by talking about and teaching things. It is funny how our brains work: when we teach something or explain something to someone else, we then understand it more clearly ourselves. As a mentor you will relive experiences, teach or share ideas and when you do this, you will learn and re-learn these concepts for yourself. Often you will find yourself “taking your own advice” to your great personal or professional benefit.
5. You will expand your impact in your organization. Not only will your personal commitment grow, but as you help others to be more successful, the organization will succeed at higher levels. Think of the satisfaction you will get from knowing you are playing a part in making that happen.
6. You will enhance your self-esteem. It just feels good to help others. You will feel better about yourself and your abilities when you share your wealth of knowledge and experience with others. Your self esteem will rise because you are doing good things for someone else.
7. You will increase your skills. As you mentor others, you will become a better mentor. The skills that make you a better mentor; empathy, listening, caring, building trust (to name just a few), make you more effective in many other parts of your life. Being a mentor is actually great training in itself!
8. You will grow more confident. The culmination of many of these other benefits is that your confidence will increase. You will be more confident in many sorts of interpersonal relationships and conversations. You will know that you can have a positive impact and that you can make a difference.
9. You will leave a legacy. Successful athletic coaches do more than grow their teams and win lots of games. The best also create a linage of coaches that leave their staff to become head coaches as well. This is an important legacy that they leave – a statement of their influence and impact. By mentoring others with care and compassion you will be adding directly to your legacy.
What are BIG’s tips about becoming a mentor?
Take a minute now and think about yourself as a mentor. Identify what you see as being in it for you. Envision how it will feel to give back to someone else. Then go out and become a mentor – you, along with your ‘student’, will be glad that you did!