Seeing New Potential? Here???s Our Guide to Becoming a Mentor

This article was originally published here
June 15, 2015
By Tami Rubino, BioSpace Hiring and Branding Guru

A few weeks ago, I attended a wedding ceremony for a beautiful young couple just starting their exciting new life together. The setting was a perfect spring day at a local winery with grapevines in full bloom and a gentle breeze keeping the pesky gnats and mosquitos at bay. The odd part of this picturesque scene was my husband standing at the altar as the officiant.

Why is that odd, you ask? Because he is not a pastor, he’s just an ordinary guy and small business owner. It is not difficult to become an ordained minister, which basically allows you to solemnize a marriage. So how is it that my husband who has never officiated anything in his life got called to lead this young couple into matrimony? It’s simple: He was asked.

The relationship that eventually led to my husband presiding over his first (and likely only) wedding ceremony started several years ago. He met a young man who had struggled at home and at school all his life, but had somehow managed to become a three-time All-American wrestler. This young man was at a crossroads that could have led him in several different directions—not all of them good. He desperately needed someone to lift him up and guide him down the right path.

What I’m talking about is mentorship, which is dramatically different than leadership. Being a mentor is not something you’re assigned to do and it is certainly not part of your job description. It’s a choice. Mentorship is also not a seasonal activity that ebbs and flows based on your management hierarchy or your circle of influence, it is a lifelong and life-changing commitment that forever connects two people who would otherwise not likely cross paths.

What qualifies you to be a mentor? Well, of course, you don’t have to be successful. You don’t need to have power and prestige, and you don’t need to be rich and well-known. You have the makings of a great mentor if:

• You see potential in others and want to see them grow and succeed.

• You are willing to open your life, heart and home to someone outside of your immediate circle of family and friends.

• You are willing to leverage your unique life experiences—to share your successes, but more importantly your failures, for the sake of another human being.

Mentorship is an extraordinary opportunity available to everyone. Your unique combination of life experiences automatically qualifies you for mentorship. You’ve been running the race for a while now and you’ve acquired a wealth of knowledge that can benefit others. You have a responsibility to pass it on to the people coming up behind you: The next generation of mentors.

So how do you identify a good candidate to be a mentee?

First, a mentee doesn’t show up on your doorstep holding a sign that says, “Please, be my mentor.” Mentorship can’t be forced, it happens very naturally once you open your mind to it. You’ll eventually—and often unexpectedly—stumble across someone who needs to hear exactly what you have to say. Your story is the missing piece in their puzzle of life.

Mentees are often the underdogs. They possess great talents, but are plagued by insecurities and self-doubt. They don’t have enough belief in themselves to gain traction. They just need someone, like you, to come alongside and give them a little shove.

Mentees are coachable. They lack arrogance, yet are typically competitive and like to win.

Mentees also have a deep-rooted desire to belong, although they may appear to be isolated and alone. Up until this chance encounter with you, they’ve resisted the temptation to follow the crowd because they know deep down there’s something better waiting for them. This sense of belonging is a very powerful motivator and can be just the ticket for unlocking their full potential.

So the next time you meet someone and you feel that little nudge that drives you to strike up a conversation, open yourself up to go deeper. Explore their story and trust your instincts to see what’s possible for that individual despite their current circumstances.

Don’t discount the value of your personal insights, perspective, wisdom, and life experiences and the positive impact you can have on shaping another person’s life. Being a mentor is a privilege and a legacy that will last far longer than your job title or your bank account. Don’t miss out!

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