This afternoon, I received such a great surprise. My mentor texted me she was in town and wanted to see if I had time to get together. I was elated. This woman has been one of my biggest champions in this journey called life and I’m grateful beyond words to have her as a part of it.
I was paired with her as a part of my College Leadership Florida program well more than a decade ago (man, I’m growing up!), and the stars must have been aligned just right because we are a perfect match. What I love most about her: she asks the right questions, she challenges me, yet always supports me, she always believed in me and she has been one of my very best friends. Her formal commitment to me was only that one year, but we’ve stayed connected to this day. She even stood with me when I got married as one of my bridesmaids (I bet she thought she’d never do that again!).
Our time together today reminded me about how important it is to have mentors in our lives. To have those objective, supportive, experienced individuals to help us through our journey. And, I think about how important it is to give back, to turn around and support someone yourself. I’ve been a mentor to a few amazing young women, and it has been such a joy to see them grow in their careers.
Why is mentorship important? Well, I think it is all about being in an authentic relationship. Mentorship comes in many forms: friendships, colleagues and sometimes, competitors. It doesn’t have to be something formal, just real. You could have many of these kind of people in your life for the various parts of it…your career, motherhood, a spiritual journey or a hobby.
Mentors are great champions. They can be a source of great inspiration. They can talk you through a tough time and give you wonderful perspective. They cheer you on when you need it the most. They believe in your dreams and support you in achieving your goals.
They are someone who can help keep you grounded. We’ve all had our ups and downs. As we go through this life journey it is important to have an experienced, objective person to point out things you may not see yourself. One of the greatest things my mentor taught me was truly evaluating my strengths and what I loved to do in life. She drew this matrix for me, and to this day, I still think about it when making a career decision, and I’ve shared it with others myself (I also love this Venn diagram).
Mentors open doors. Yes, they can help open doors by introducing you to people, but more importantly, they open the doors of your own possibility. They can help you see things that you might not notice on your own, and they can encourage you to overcome your fears.
I think it doesn’t matter if you are the mentor or the mentee, you learn from each other. The relationship is a blessing and one that will have a positive impact on your life. I know my mentor will read this, and I try to tell her as often as I can that she has been such an important part in the fabric of my life.
I just wish more of us actually did this. So, even though you may not be an “official” mentor to anyone, your relationship with someone just may mean the world to them. Why don’t we all do what we can to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down? Take time to learn from those ahead of you in life and those behind you. The joy is in sharing and learning from each other…oh, and to be present in those moments.
Who has been your mentor or an important anchor in your life? I want to hear about them and would love to recognize them (and your stories) on my blog! Post in the comments below.