"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is no such thing as a “self-made” man or woman. We are all the product of the people we have met, the books we have read, and the mentors from whom we have learned. Sharing what we have learned with others is one of the responsibilities of the learned. Once you possess, it is in the giving away that you gain even more.
In Latin, “qui docet dicit” means, “who teaches, learns.” In other words, the best way to learn more is to teach and share what you already know. Thus comes the wisdom and benefit of mentoring others.
Here are some tips for being a good mentor, no matter your age:
Be open. Look for those who are looking. There are sincere seekers of truth everywhere. Be aware of them. Watch for the look on their face. Be on the lookout for their questions. Be receptive to their inquiries.
Be interested. Find out what the other person’s hopes and dreams are. Find out the direction he or she has identified. The most valuable learning takes place when it is relevant to the situation of the student. Find out what matters most to him or her.
ASK. We are generally more convinced by the things we have discovered on our own than by the things pointed out to us by others. It is in the asking that others discover. Ask questions like, “Have you ever considered…? What would happen if…? ”Would it make sense if…? Have you ever heard of…?” Questions are the key that opens the mind.
Share, don’t advise. The best mentors share the wealth of their experience and what they have learned from it. They never, however, advise the other person what to do. That is for the mentored to decide. No one knows the exact situation that exists better than the person in it. Give that person the best of your wisdom. Then leave the personal responsibility to decide how it applies to the mentored. Besides, you don’t want the responsibility for their actions anyway!
Be clear about your preferred method of communication. If someone is sincerely seeking your help, be clear on the best way to reach you. Phone, e-mail, text, etc. Don’t leave the person wondering the most appropriate way to reach you next.
Be prepared to learn a few things yourself! You can’t share without learning something from the person with whom you are sharing. Each year at our LEAP program for high school and college students (www.LEAPfoundation.com) we hold a Mentor Round Table session where top professionals from different fields come in to be interviewed by the students. The students sit one-on-one with the mentors and can asking them anything they want in order to learn more about their profession, their success and how they accomplished it. Last summer we had as one of our mentors, the most successful residential real estate agent from one of the wealthiest areas of the country. The Mentor Round Table was a transformative experience for him. As the students interviewed him, one student in particular was inquisitive and bold. The student asked, “So where do you go from here? You are very successful at a very young age. What’s next? Is this it?” What that student did not know is that this particular mentor had been pursued by one of the largest brokerage firms in the country that was offering him the chance to lead their office in his city. It was a significant advancement in his career, but he had been putting it off for a reason he could not identify except that he was comfortable where he was. The pointed questions asked by this student pushed him over the edge. After the Mentor Round Table session, he drove back to his office, signed the offer and faxed it back to the company. He was on his way to the next step in his own career. He thought he was going to share and help young students that day. In turn, he learned something about himself that inspired him onto the next level in his own career.
You can’t help others without helping yourself. Make mentoring a more integral part of your life. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make in the lives of others. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your own life!