Just recently, I attended my first ever mentor walk. The idea is that a mentor and mentee are paired up and then walk a mile together to learn more about each other and to receive and give some great advice. This will, hopefully, turn into a long-term relationship.
I decided to sponsor and volunteer at this event, because I know how important mentorship is. Also, I recall many a conversation with guests on my Leadership with Heart podcast about the importance of finding a good mentor.
I signed up as a mentor just in case they needed me. I know I have a lot to learn, and thought about signing up as a mentee, but something stopped me from doing so. As I was helping with handing our coffee, something amazing happened! I became a mentee!
Most people think of a mentor/mentee relationship as one in which there is more formality, or ongoing meetings. A few takeaways I want to share:
It doesn’t take much
I asked the leader of the event about her business model, hiring challenges, growth strategies, etc. It was a rich conversation all in the span of 30 minutes. It was all I needed at the time. I might reach out again when I need another boost, but this short interaction filled me up. I didn’t plan to meet a mentor. I didn’t plan to have this conversation, but it seemed right, and I took the leap.
Mentors are all around
I used to feel bad for myself in that I have never had a formal mentor. Someone who could help me plot my course or stop me from making bad decisions. Largely, I experiment with what I want, and some things stick while others do not. What I discovered is that mentors are all around us. It just takes a moment for each one of us to touch one life every day. Be the mentor to someone else. If they ask, respond affirmatively.
If we don’t ask, then the answer is always “no”
Early on in life, what I missed was this idea that I must ask for help when I need it. I boot-strapped much of where I am today not because I think I know it all, or that I am too good, but because I didn’t want to bother anyone, and I assumed they were too busy to help little old me.
What I have discovered with age is that we get nowhere when we make assumptions about someone else’s answer to our burning questions. Now, I just jump in and ask for what I want or need. If I don’t ask, the answer is automatically “no.”
Give them the gift of giving
One of the things that hit me when I engaged the other volunteer at this mentor walk is how much joy she seemed to experience by helping me. She was very open and honest. She seemed to be relieved in the moment even though she was recalling pitfalls in her business.
This experience changed my mind about mentorship forever. I gave her a gift that day. The gift to change someone else’s actions for the better and the potential to leave a legacy. I learned a few things about what I should and shouldn’t do as an entrepreneur.
Now that I think about it, mentors are everywhere. I am a mentor and a mentee, depending on the circumstances. I will remain open to the role I am to play in this special relationship. I hope to give and receive many more gifts.
If you want to learn more about a creative way to expand your mentor network, listen to my Leadership with Heart podcast episode with Keith Freier of Pacific Northwest National Laboratories as he describes a personal board of directors.
Cheers to each one reaching one!