You are a mentor

February 19th, 2012
Written by Cindi
@deziner

It is true. I know it may be hard to believe. “Mentorship” is one of those words that can be big and scary. One that can often bring up the self-questioning thoughts that often echo in our psyches:

“I really haven’t accomplished enough to be able to mentor someone else.”

“The skills/position/experience/(fill in the blank) really isn’t mentoring worthy.”

“I wouldn’t know where to begin with a mentoring process.”

It’s not true. Everyone has something that is completely unique, that they are experts in that no one else can claim. That is the story of their own experience. When you share your story a relationship is formed, and you put on the table examples, learnings and inspiration that only you can. It doesn’t matter if what you share is directly relatable in terms of topic or question to those listening. When you share your story connections will be made and new, usable perspectives will be uncovered that can help inform and guide the questions or struggles the audience may be experiencing.

I have experienced this personally. I had the opportunity recently to speak to the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership class at George Washington University. I, like most, spun for a while on what I could share or teach that would seem worthy for the class to spend their time on. In the end, I decided to simply tell my story. My background, my journey, my decisions and what I learned from them. Where I succeeded, and where I fell. The dialog, appreciation and feedback I received from the class was amazing and humbling. I had helped, and it was so easy.

We need more people to step up and mentor. It’s the most effective and meaningful way to learn. There is a secret though–It must be your story, and not a report on chronological events. Timelines and resumes do not equate to experiences, and the nuances of experience are where connections and learning occur. So share your stories. And ask for others to to share theirs. Learning is a two-way flow. You will be amazed by how easy it is, and how impactful it can be.

Add “mentor” to your list of accomplishments. It’s a worthy goal.

 

3 Comments

Comments

  1. Cindi – this post hit close to home! You’re right to mention that the word “mentor” has a lot of connotations that can be intimidating – position, stature, age, etc. Reframing it as storytelling opens it up a lot, the stories can be instructive from positive and negative standpoints (i.e. “don’t do what I did”.) It also leaves the interpretation up to the listener as opposed to the mentor simply dispensing advice.

    Side note 1: Regardless of what one thinks of the word “method”, I believe we all can agree that the word “mentee” is simply awful.

    Side note 2: I mistook the words “my story” in the graphic above as “mystery”. Intentional?

  2. Cindi, thanks for encouraging others. Isn’t that what mentorship is all about? I remember those who made a difference in my life and they all had a contagious ability to motivate others to that next level. Knowing that someone really believes and is on your bench has an elevating influence that nothing else can match. Thanks for reaching out to the students of Bradley Tech.

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