“Getting the most out of life isn’t about how much you keep for yourself, but how much you pour into others.” – David Stoddard, “The Heart of Mentoring.”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines mentor as—someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. I have had the honor and privilege of seeing life through the eyes of several mentors. People can find mentors in nearly every facet from a spiritual mentor to an educational mentor. The possibilities are truly endless.
Seeking counsel and advice from someone older and wiser can be far more rewarding than simply reading about a trade or idea in a book. Human beings provide something a book hardly ever can—life experiences. Often times more than not, you never know how you will respond or handle a situation until you experience it. There’s much validity in that statement. Mentors, then, can share what they learned from said experiences. These observations, then, can help others heed or take any advice they choose.
A mentor is a guide for a reason. A mentor does not dictate. Essentially, he or she helps discover who you are on a deeper level, allowing growth and change to take place. Just as much as a mentor has free will to express or deny certain observations, a mentee has the same free will to embrace or ignore provided advice. Understanding that alone, I believe seeking a guide in various seasons and facets of life offers the greatest learning possible.
In a way, that is why internships are valuable in the workforce. In the grand scheme of employment, an internship is a mentorship program. During an internship, someone can truly delve into the nitty and gritty of their chosen field. Internships and mentor programs alike require humility. Both say, “I have much to learn in life, and I am willing to reach out to someone of better expertise than myself.”
Now, I know some may be thinking, “How long does a mentorship last?” The answer? It can last as long as you would like! There is no minimum or maximum of time this relationship should last. For example, I have had mentors that have walked through life with me for a few cups of coffee every now and then, to a couple times a month for a few months, to a few years. How a mentorship unfolds and carries out is completely up to you as well. Personally, I prefer face-to-face gatherings rather than over the phone or via social media. However, life is messy—people move, people get busy. I get it. For some, face-to-face meetings may not be comfortable. Like I said, it is up to you. Also, these times of getting together do not have to be anything fancy either. Usually, I just meet somewhere for coffee or a soda.
Depending on what the intent is behind the newfound relationship, you could go through a study together or just converse freely. There is so much freedom in every aspect of seeking counsel from an individual.
Lastly, I know the definition says that someone of more experience pairs with someone younger. Take note, young people: That does not mean you cannot mentor someone. Down to its innate core, it is as simple as vocalizing your life experiences with someone. If you see someone who is going through an experience you have had, tell them about it, even if, and especially if, you discovered you may have made the wrong decision. There’s no hurt in talking about it. After all, you could make a difference.
Take any opportunity you can to grow and learn from others. You are never too young to start processing events. Personally, I believe the younger you start, the better. People everywhere can learn so much from those next door.
I challenge you to seek out someone that you look up to and consider a role model. Even better, reach out to someone you don’t know too well. Harvest a new relationship. My current mentor was practically a stranger when I started meeting with her. After hearing her testimony, though, I knew I need to reach out to her. It is as simple as asking someone if he or she would be willing to do so. You would be surprised how many people are eager to pour into other’s lives.
I leave you all with this: A mentorship is two-fold. Both mentor and mentee can grow from this relationship that can evolve into a lifelong friendship. The experience is not only for the young person. Do not lose heart.