Lifting as You Climb: How to Be a Good Mentor

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Lifting as You Climb: How to Be a Good Mentor

By: Christine Pembroke

Good mentors are experienced and reliable people who guide, teach, and assist someone younger, or more novice in a particular field. Second to my mother and third to God, I am certain that there is no way I would be where I am today without my mentors. They have helped me grow both personally and professionally, overcome challenges that seemed impossible, and have cheered me on in moments I felt weary.

Mentorship is important because it helps to facilitate an individual’s success, which ultimately creates a better, smarter society. Taking the time and commitment to mentor someone can further their trajectory – taking them from good to great because they were able to avoid the mistakes you made and learn how to best strengthen their skills.

To get where you are today, someone had to help you, right? Don’t you think you should pay it forward?

If mentoring is something you’re considering, here are some tips that may help:

Keep it Real: As much as you’d want to be your mentee’s cheerleader, the last thing they need is a “yes” person. Let them know what they’re doing wrong, and how they can do better. Whether it’s their resume needing work, or their body language being off, it’s important to keep it real all the time, every time. Another part of keeping it real is being transparent yourself. Don’t hesitate to share when you’re having an off day, or that you’re struggling to meet a deadline at work. There’s value in your process too…show it! Whenever a mentor would share their past missteps or challenges, it gave me hope that things will turn out fine in the future and helped to establish trust. Our relationship went two ways; I was open with them and they were open with me.   

As much as you’d want to be your mentee’s cheerleader, the last thing they need is a “yes” person.

Be Their Advocate: Looking back, I’d say it took me a while to develop confidence in my work and abilities. In moments where I would shrug off my accomplishments or count myself out of being qualified, my mentors would call me out, and petition for my success. They’d share my wins, big or small with their friends, colleagues, and even social media. On many occasions, this led to internships, speaking engagements and even scholarships. Not only did they show me the doors of opportunity I should be knocking on, but they also shouted “let her in!” behind me as I knocked. Know your mentee’s strengths and be able to amplify their reach by introducing them to your network, sharing opportunities that would be a good fit for them, and ultimately, making sure they see the best in themselves.

Not only did they show me the doors of opportunity I should be knocking on, but they also shouted “let her in!” behind me as I knocked.

Add Value: All my mentors have contributed something of value to my life. Some contributions were physical such as books, supplies, or actual money (to a high school or college student, $20 meant the world). Other contributions my mentors made into my life were intangible. I’d say the greatest of their gifts was their time. They’d take a moment of their busy schedule to touch base on the phone or in person. We’d talk about how my classes were going, how I could best position myself for work, and even my mental health! Good mentorship will always require something of you. The gifts are optional, but the time is mandatory so be prepared.

Other contributions my mentors made into my life were intangible. I’d say the greatest of their gifts was their time.

Be Consistent: Nothing is more frustrating than unpredictability, especially when it comes to people. Try your best to keep your appointments, and when you can’t, let your mentee know well ahead of time. Be punctual and respond to them in a timely matter. Often, we can take our mentees for granted, thinking that because they need us, we can act in any old way. Not true. You should treat your relationship with your mentee as any other professional relationship.

You should treat your relationship with your mentee as any other professional relationship.

In a world where people are becoming more and more self-centered, interactions seem transactional, and everything all about the money, we must make the very intentional effort to give back. Pass on the kindness, money, or time that someone had given to you at some point in your journey. It may make all the difference in a young person’s life.

 

 Peace,

Chrissy