Making intentional decisions to be a better mentor for others.
By Callie Verderosa
Mentoring and role modeling are incredible responsibilities that help younger (and older) generations learn to lead themselves and others – but how often do we consider the work it takes to guide someone on their life journey?
If you read our recent post about role modeling, it’s clear that role models can have a huge impact on the lives of others even if they don’t realize they’re being a role model at all. We all have people who we look up to and view as guideposts for how we want to live our lives or make a difference in the world. But just because someone like Michelle Obama or Cody Bellinger is your role model, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily your mentor. Having a mentor (and being one) takes care and commitment, and it develops over time through a trusting relationship.
A role model is the Arnold Schwarzenegger or Alex Morgan poster that’s put up in the gym for fitness inspiration. A mentor is the personal trainer who helps someone create the weekly plan to achieve fitness goals. Being a mentor is a conscious choice to play an active role in the life of someone else. It provides valuable structure for someone looking to achieve the next milestone directly from another person who has that lived experience.
Anyone can mentor from any seat at the table; they don’t have to be older or have a four-page resume of achievements to be a strong mentor. Whether you’re looking to consciously improve your mentoring or unconsciously be a better role model, the following tips can be helpful for either goal:
- Articulate your values. When a mentor has a firm grasp on their personal values, it becomes easy to fill time with people, events, and organizations that align with their belief system. When someone shares their values with others, they create a space for people to uncover what their own values are.
- Walk the talk. Model the way, not only for the mentee, but for anyone else out there who’s looking up to you. When people can live what they say they value, it’s a clear indication that they’ve developed their internal foundation that guides where they go and how they get there.
- Develop others. Go out of the way to aid in others’ development. A mentor doesn’t have to spend a whole day (or their whole wallet) to help a mentee gain the experiences they need for their next step. Mentors can simply listen to others’ needs and offer ideas or connections that can be helpful in their journey.
- Allow room for mistakes. Being a mentor means coaching your mentee from the sideline and helping them develop the skills they need to score the goal on their own. Mentors don’t play the game for them. If they make a mistake, they can call a time-out, discuss what went wrong, and the mentor can coach them in how to adjust for the second half. Mistakes can feel uncomfortable, but the lessons learned within discomfort lead to growth and development, and they must feel encouraged to do their best and feel comfortable learning from their own mistakes.
While you go about your daily routine, even in the busiest seasons of your life, people are looking up to you. Your awareness of how you show up for others can be the first step in aiding others’ personal and professional growth.