So much of what I talk about in this blog centers around relationships, community, networking, and mentoring. Primarily because I am a firm believer in the strength of your village. I believe in this as much as I believe in our personal responsibility to ensure that we are reaching milestones for our own growth. Both when applied correctly, have always proven to be major assets. But to that end, I wanted to take a moment to pen some thoughts on nurturing the mentor/mentee relationship. Especially now, during the season of personal distancing and quarantine. I wanted to spend some time making sure we haven’t lost sight of these foundational tools that help to shape us.
So, if you’ve identified a mentor, someone you trust to give you advice or counsel on things related to your career or personal decisions, how are you managing that relationship these days? I would encourage you to continue spending time with them. If you were having coffee once a week, I would recommend you make every effort to maintain that routine via phone call or video chat. My push is simple, there are still decisions you need to make. This season is full of new opportunities and while you may not be able to see beyond the space that you’re in, your mentor may be able to help you find a sense of direction and focus. For those moms out there, that were trying to figure out how to maintain income without going back to their traditional 8hr work routine, bouncing those thoughts off someone else can be a helpful exercise to empty your head of the anxiety you feel. A good mentor also helps to keep you accountable to the goals you set for yourself prior to the shift in our world. You were on to something a few months ago. Whether that was your fitness goals, creating new designs, or starting a class, mentors are there to support, advise, and motivate you to continue to push forward. If you had an existing relationship, you need to continue. So you need to check in with them. A quick text to let them know that you’re still focused and committed to accomplishing the goals you set with them in your previous conversations … before all of this wildness happened. Let them know that you are still headed in that direction. Not only does this help you be accountable, but it also reinforces the relationship, and lets them know that you value the time they spend with you.
But what if you don’t have an existing relationship? Is establishing one even possible in the age of physical distance and 6 feet apart-ness? I would say yes, but it may require some outside of the box thinking on your part. Think about past or current relationships. Co-workers, relatives, or classmates from college. What about your small church groups or other mothers from your kids' playgroups? You can even consider joining a Facebook group (while I don’t know of any personally, I do know there are groups available that are focused on support and target a specific demographic).
Think about what the mentor/mentee relationship means for you and what you would like to get out of it. Not only that but also, think about what you would bring to this relationship. Can you stay consistent with your appointments? Will you be willing to do the homework that’s needed to ensure you stay on track with your goals? Are you willing to build into your schedule, time to devote to the relationship?
This post isn’t about what to cover in your mentoring session. That is intentional. This is less about the process of mentoring and specifically focused on securing and safeguarding the relationship. Mentoring is necessary to help you get beyond the roadblocks and hurdles we face during transition. It’s also a second set of eyes to bring us some perspective. Mentoring can help you sort through your thoughts or refine your goals. Your mentor should be in front of the line when it comes to being part of your network and community and the first to have your back when you’re faced with indecision. Your responsibility is equally important. You need to make sure you place value on the relationship and be an active participant. All or nothing. This is how you get the most value, the greatest return on investment. The investment is time and the return is your development. I encourage you to spend time re-evaluating your relationships.
If you don’t have a mentor, figure out if you even need one. If you do, consider those in your current community (keep in mind that when I refer to community, I'm talking about your larger network and circle of influence). Are they headed in a direction that is in line with yours? Have they achieved some milestones that could benefit your future? Do they possess knowledge or some insight that could add to your overall development? If you can say yes, then consider approaching them about mentoring you. It’s a simple “hey, I’m thinking about finding a mentor and wonder if you’re interested?”. If you have an existing mentor, make sure you haven’t allowed the relationship to grow stale. Make sure you are still receiving and contributing to its optimal value. If not, it’s okay. Give yourself permission to start the search again. Remember this is your development. It’s perfectly fine to put yourself first.
These are absolutely my thoughts…ratedpg.