Over the past year, I have been focusing on my personal and professional development. Along my journey, it became clear that I needed someone to talk to about my struggles. Someone who could call me out on my bullsh*t, help hold me accountable and be a trusted mentor.
But, how do you find a mentor and know when you’re ready for one? And how do you know when it’s time to be a mentor to a colleague?
Last January, I turned to Facebook to reach out for help, and found myself reading posts from one of my high school classmates, Susannah Campora. She had started a career as a life coach, and had recently launched Real Life Book Club, a modern personal-growth book club for women. She seemed so positive yet vulnerable in her posts about her failures and successes. It was just the spark I needed: I was immediately inspired to contact her and have her coach and mentor me, in hopes that I could see beyond my hazy surroundings and find my way back to my true path.
As I started my mentoring relationship with Susannah, I learned that as individuals we are able to grow and develop more easily, gracefully and quickly when we are willing to connect with others. Especially others who are wiser and more experienced. And it’s only natural for humans to connect like this for simple survival, but it’s needed even more so to be able to thrive in modern-day society.
Because of the coaching and mentoring I’ve received, I now have the awareness to see that my gifts, insights and advice can also be shared with others who may be on a similar journey as me. And I can see the amazing potential of what I can learn from even more people who I’d like to mentor me. It’s exciting to embrace the beauty of the incredibly vulnerable but ultimately rewarding experience of mentoring.
Tips for being a mentee:
- Be humble and real with yourself. As you practice reflecting on your own life, goals, and beliefs, notice the fears that you want to explore. Do you feel like you have a lack of experience or need more support in your life or work? Do you need someone to help hold you accountable for life changes that you want to make? If so, it may be time to ask for the help of someone who can coach or mentor you.
- Network or do a web search for other professionals in your industry who you feel are accomplishing the same or similar goals. LinkedIn is a great resource, along with your existing Facebook network.
- Practice vulnerability and push past the fear of asking for help. The easiest way to start is by asking questions — even if you are only asking yourself the questions (“WHY do I feel afraid?” “WHAT is a baby step I can take to keep moving forward?” “HOW can I learn more about myself in my struggles?”)
- Keep communications open with your mentor. If you’re having a rough day and need to get “real” with someone, the best place to start is with someone who can empathize and relate to your struggles.
- Respect any boundaries that your mentor may have, and ask them to respect yours as well. Don’t call/text/message your mentor at 11:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night if they haven’t given you permission to do so.
Tips for being a mentor:
- Set realistic expectations and be honest about the relationship you are willing to have with your mentee.
- Practice accountability for yourself and your mentee, and respect any boundaries your mentee has requested.
- If you begin to feel fear about your mentee possibly rising above you and becoming “competition”, be aware of that and then move from a place of love. Encourage your mentee to be their own person, share their own gifts, and follow their own intuition.
- Acknowledge the joy and abundance that comes from sharing your gifts, experience, lessons, and expertise. It is a natural step to share, and if we hold it too close and don’t help, share, or teach what we know, it can feel like was wasted energy to go through learning and growing so much. The fruits of success are awesome, but mentoring, sharing and teaching what you know is priceless, and can bring about even more success and abundance if you let it.
Jenny Wiley is co-owner of an advertising agency in Wichita, Kansas, called Apples & Arrows. She began practicing yoga in 2007 as a way to balance her high-energy job with her grounded essence. She and her husband, Dave, are both active in Wichita community, and love to volunteer and attend local events for yoga, art and music. Along with their two kiddos, Penny and Orion, their family tribe lives on yoga, love and whole living. When she’s not at work or on the mat, you can find this Midwest-born girl attending music festivals, making and practicing with hula hoops and camping and enjoying the Kansas countryside with her family.
Photo by Ali Kaukas