If someone were to ask you about who the key influences in your life have been, who would you pick and why?
Most of us can point to one (or more) important people that have played their part in shaping who we are today. Had we not met them, the paths we would have taken may have been very different. It is the time we have spent watching and learning from our mentors – that personal connection we have developed, that has given us that necessary push or steered us back on the road towards a better version of ourselves.
It’s no surprise that the ability to develop personal connections has been disrupted in the digital age. Conventional relationships have been distorted and the ability to form meaningful, lasting connections have been made increasingly difficult. Social media has made us as a voyeur rather than a participant in many of our relationships. As technology further infiltrates our society, we must hold close those opportunities to develop personal connections and do something meaningful with them – much like those important people in our lives have done for us.
Becoming a mentor presents one of those opportunities. The feeling of helping someone, being connected and doing something good has a number of benefits, including:
- Personal satisfaction: Knowing that you can make an impact on someone’s life in a positive way is priceless. Spending one-on-one quality time and seeing the growth and change in your mentee is rewarding as you become personally invested in your mentee’s success.
- Being connected: In the age of social media, it’s often easy to forget the closeness you feel from actually speaking to someone – the raw emotion, the unspoken trust, the empathy and the sense of comfort and security. Mentoring allows you to really get to know someone and be open and honest about yours / their experiences – and many times it results in a life-long bond.
- Self-growth and development: To add to the feeling of personal gratification that mentoring provides, it also provides some tangible benefits such as the ability to develop your leadership skills and coaching style. It forces to you practice what you preach and in doing so encourages you to be confident and overcome self-doubt. As a mentor, you are a role model – and this critical role pushes you to strive higher. If your mentee can do it, so can you!
- Sharpen interpersonal skills: Direct personal communication, particularly in the age of social media is a skill that isn’t always fully developed. This is particularly the case with young people. Mentoring helps develop vital transferable skills in communication, rapport building, listening and speaking impactfuly. Not to mention, you are developing these skills in your mentee too.
- Gain perspective: As a mentor, you are in a great position to view things objectively. You can take a step back and view things with an open mind. Mentorship also provides opportunities for self-reflection and can work both ways, you can gain just as much from your mentee as you give. A new way of thinking may help both your personal and professional life.
- Make a real difference: Most importantly, as a mentor you will make a real difference in the life of an ‘at risk’ teenage girl. There are very few things as rewarding as seeing your mentee flourish and reach their full potential. With your help a young woman can break the cycle and see that her past doesn’t have to be her future.
“Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter… Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity. Yet one in three young people will grow up without this critical asset.” ¹