A mentor, as we’ve already discussed in past posts, can come in many shapes and guises. They may be the manager who guides a protégés career, they could be the friend who happens to have relevant experience or they could be the person you meet randomly in the street, the presenter who happens to hit the mark with something they say or any one of a number of other encounters – either long or short – that have an impact on a persons life.
For me, the thing that characterises a mentor, is the ability for one person to help another change something fundamental about their life – be it personal or professional. As such, we may encounter many people who fulfil this role, who are never aware that this is what they are doing.
I had one such encounter a couple of weeks ago at a networking event I attended. The presenter was talking about being a ‘lighthouse’, a beacon that could guide others and as she was talking, I had a kind of epiphany that made me realise the things that are important in life, and those that aren’t. I didn’t speak with the presenter afterwards, but I did leave to have coffee with a friend who reinforced what had just happened, by saying the very same things, in exactly the same order as the presenter I had just listened too. Spooky, just doesn’t cut it. This was a message I was meant to hear.
And that’s the essence of a mentoring relationship for me, those important messages which are transferred between the participants, between mentor and mentee that lead to significant developments taking place. On that particular day, I was fortunate enough to have two mentors, neither of whom knew each other and neither of whom would recognise that they were taking that role on, albeit for such a short period of time.
Imagine then, if such a simple encounter can have that profound an effect, what a long term specific mentoring relationship can do … the possibilities are endless, and the opportunities are great. If you have the chance to work with a mentor, then I would urge you to do so because you certainly won’t regret it, and you will almost certainly be challenged by it.