Turn on the news on any given day and you will hear numerous stories about horrific things going on in the world, highlighting all the callous and criminal things people can do to one another. It can be disheartening, to say the least.
But peppered in there are the human interest stories, the ones that show how loving and kind and generous we can be as humans. And this got me thinking.
Over nearly two decades, I have seen River facilitate and support thousands of mentoring relationships. People have been helped, supported, guided, advised, listened to, and made to feel valuable and worthwhile, all because they took part in mentoring. On a micro level, this can change the course of a person’s life. On a macro level, it makes me say simply that mentoring brings out the best in us. Here are three ways this can happen.
Looking out for someone else and giving selflessly to others are common occurrences in most mentoring relationships. In fact, these types of actions are what make mentoring such a wonderful practice. The very act of being there for your mentoring partner can cause you to think about more than yourself in that moment. This mentality does not have to be limited to just how the mentor treats the mentee, either. It should cross boundaries and embed itself into how we treat one another regardless of our role. And if we’re doing it right, these altruistic actions will bleed over into other parts of our lives outside of our mentoring relationships.
One of the most valuable outcomes of mentoring is getting to know yourself better. A mentoring relationship gives you the space and permission for self-reflection, where you can dig into your thoughts, feelings, motivations, etc. A mentoring partner can help you ask the hard questions of yourself, can help hold you accountable, and can be a sounding board for you as you attempt to improve yourself. Today’s overstimulated world can be a difficult one to find time for self-reflection and mindfulness. A mentoring relationship offers a perfect way to find pockets of quiet space and time so that you can engage in meaningful self-reflection.
Growth is a critical component of mentoring: growth in skills, growth in maturity, and growth in ideas. There is evidence that most adults are continuous learners—that the desire to learn doesn’t stop simply because we are no longer in school. Mentoring relationships are designed to support that constant growth and development, and the best part is that mentees and mentors benefit from these growth opportunities. A mentoring relationship may focus on the mentee’s development goals, but the mentor will also grow and develop as they guide, listen, advise, and support the mentee. This is why so many mentoring participants report positive feelings about their relationships. The benefits are mutual!
Mentoring is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for one another. I’m grateful to the mentors I’ve had in my life, humbled by the mentees who have sought my advice, and honored to work for a company that helps facilitate such powerful and transformative relationships for people all over the world. Now go mentor!