As Telemachus was sitting in his father’s house witnessing the arrogance of suitors and wondering if his father Odysseus was still alive, Athens, the goddess of wisdom and war, flew from Olympus to inspire courage in Telemachus. She disguised as Mentes, chief of the Taphians and an old friend of his father, Odysseus.
Skipping a few centuries ahead, the Greek name Mentes gave a root to the word “mentor”, but the meaning stayed the same: a person, who inspires courage, a counselor, a guide.
Just like Telemachus, needing encouragement in fighting suitors out of his father’s house, many of us nowadays need a cheerleader and a guide, who would help us navigate our personal or professional life challenges. And just like Athena, mentors are there for us to help us, guide us, and inspire us to achieve our goals.
So, what is a “mentor” and what kind of support can you get from mentorship?
According to Anthony Tjan, CEO and the author who shared his ideas on mentorship on Ideas.Ted.Com, you might want to consider a mentor as a collective of these five constituents: master of craft, champion of your cause, copilot, anchor, and a reverse mentor. This doesn’t mean that you need few mentors. You can (and would be lucky to) have at least one person, who can serve all these functions.
A master of craft is a person who is well respected in their field. They possess the wisdom from years of experience in the field of your interest. You want to have this person in your life to be your personal “Jedi master”, providing insight, helping you brainstorm new ideas and fine-tune your skills.
The champion of your cause is a person who can vouch for you, and have your back. This person can connect you to the right people and facilitate your success via skillful networking.
The copilot is your peer who is on the same boat with you (aka “best work bud”). It is a person who can show you around the office and support you on your first day at work, and help you work through some process or answer any questions about your day-to-day routine. You are reciprocal in this relationship, collaborating and empowering each other.
The anchor is someone who doesn’t do what you do necessarily, but who can give you emotional support and encouragement. We need anchors to provide us understanding, and the feeling of belonging when we face life challenges.
Reverse mentors are mentees. As much as mentors should provide some learning and support to mentees, they should also learn from mentees’ feedback and perspective.
Reverse mentorship is often overlooked in the media, which “sell” the idea of acquiring a mentor. Having a mentor is a privilege, not a right, and it should be treated like a relationship, not a transaction. Mentees have responsibilities to their mentors as well. Only a full engagement of both parties can result in a truly beneficial experience for the mentee’s personal and/or career development.
In case you are considering having a mentor, here is a list of some basic expectations mentees should meet when entering and maintaining a mentor-mentee alliance:
Do your research. Finding the right mentor fit is crucial to ensure a good experience. Take your time, research your mentor, and schedule a chat with them. The mentor-mentee relationship is often a long-term commitment, and it is very important to find not only a professional but also a good personal fit.
Set your SMART goals(i.e. specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) before meeting with your mentor. Take full responsibility and ownership for your goals. Mentors can guide you once you have a final destination, but they are not there to tell you what you need or want in life.
Respect mentor’s time. Make sure you don’t miss scheduled appointments with your mentor and you are always prepared for your next chat with some progress data.
Leave your attitude at the door. Entering a mentorship relationship as a mentee assumes you have a need for personal development. Take your mentor’s constructive feedback seriously and try not to ignore your mentor’s advice. Mentor’s goal is to see you improve and grow, and not to purely criticize you. If you feel that your mentor doesn’t have your best interest at heart, try to express your concern to them, pointing out where their advice can interfere with your growth or might violate your values. If such a conversation doesn’t yield good results, find another mentor(see # 1)
Show initiative. Describe your learning style, ask questions, and seek feedback. Ask a mentor to clarify anything that doesn’t make sense – mentors are there to help you
Respect mentor-mentee confidentiality and maintain trust in your relationship. If you don’t like anything your mentor does or says, discuss it with them directly in a polite manner. Don’t talk bad about your mentor behind their back.
Mentorship can be a life-changing experience. It can provide one not only with guidance in achieving some goals, but can also aid in reprogramming brain neuropaths of a person who did not have a positive role model during their upbringing. Mentors, while listening and responding to mentees' issues in their life/ work, often project the level of understanding that mentees might lack in order to believe in themselves. A good support system boosts confidence in one’s abilities to succeed, and the faith in success serves as a driving force for every action.
If you are new to Canada, alone and/or struggling with achieving certain life/career goals, or simply would like to try mentorship, check M2D programming. By becoming an M2D member, you can get access to one of our legacy-building programs and develop meaningful and lasting relationships. Participation is free. Seats are limited, so hurry up. Join M2D community today and start the journey to your success!
Post by Ielyzaveta