At 4word, we believe that one of the best investments you can make in yourself and your career comes through a mentoring relationship. As you are navigating and evaluating life and career goals, the advice and guidance of someone who has been on the same path as you is invaluable. Today, we are speaking with Tanya Little, part of Dallas 4word leadership, and a long time mentor. She shares her experience as a 4word mentor with us.
4word: Why did you decide to participate in the mentoring program?
Tanya: I believe mentoring is my spiritual gift. I’ve been involved in mentoring programs for some time. Investing in others through mentorship is a way for me to give back. It’s easy to give of myself in that way, and I get so much in return- not just in giving of my time, but I learn from each person I talk to and spend time with. We all go through trials, changes and opportunities and often evaluate what to do based on the experiences of someone else. It’s a blessing to be able to be that person.
4word: Was your experience with our program what you expected it to be?
Tanya: It was more, it always is. The young lady that I met was originally from Nigeria and now lives in the states. At the time we met, she was finishing her masters degree at Southern Methodist University. She had extremely high goals and aspirations, one being able to return to her homeland and be the Minister of Finance. I was in awe of her from day one. We had opportunity to talk about what that would look like and how she would get there. Additionally, during the time we were together, she was making a choice about her first major employer after college. Being able to help her with this critical time in her life was invaluable and learning from someone who had overcome amazing obstacles at such a young age made her a role model in my eyes.
When I grew up, there wasn’t an opportunity to have a mentor in your life, and if there was, I certainly didn’t know it. 4word’s mentoring program offers a safe, godly environment to share, learn, and pray together.
4word: How did you see the relationship between you and your mentee grow? What results have you seen from your relationship?
Tanya: One of the things that we talked about a lot was that she was a professional woman pursuing a demanding career, with a family and two young children, so she had a lot to balance.
At the end of our time together, she shared that she really took each session and applied it to her everyday life. I think she was overall happier with her work-life balance and less stressed about future plans. For me, I drew inspiration from this lovely young woman who had so much of her life in front of her and so much to offer.
At one point she told me mentoring was my ministry. It was such a huge compliment and confirms the gift that God has given me. If in the short amount of time I spend with someone, that time leads to even a small change in their life, then it’s God’s work.
4word: To the women who would like to be a mentor, but hesitate for whatever reason, what do you have to say to them?
Tanya: Based on my own experiences, I don’t believe everyone is meant to be a mentor so I will provide a few examples and considerations below.
You can be very successful, but you might lack the skills to be an effective mentor. I once approached a very successful gentleman that worked for a large consulting firm about being a mentor for me, but his personality and style didn’t allow him to share freely and honestly enough. It was never a very productive relationship because he couldn’t be fully honest with me and give me the objective advice I needed.
If you are considering being a mentor, I think it is more about the feeling of wanting to give and share your life experiences in a positive way with someone else. If you feel that you have that, and freely want to give of yourself, then mentoring could be for you.
Recently I was approached at a 4word event by someone who stated “I would like to be a mentor, but I would also like to be a mentee.” My suggestion is that it’s not exclusive- you can be one or the other, but if you are interested in being a mentee, I would suggest that first, especially if you have never been in a mentoring role. That will give you a feel for the roles and responsibilities of a mentor and mentee.
Finally, I take mentorship seriously. Each individual I speak to is looking for advice and evaluating that advice for their life experience. Over time, I’ve learned that helping each person come to their own conclusions is the best and most empowering. Additionally, connecting with my mentees is important as well. For example, I have a very aggressive personality, but one of my mentees is more introverted. I have to stop and think about how I can advise her to accomplish what she wants to accomplish, but not in the same way I would do it. It challenges me to strategize with my mentoring relationships.
4word: Why is mentoring so important to you?
Tanya: Mentoring is natural to me. I don’t have to think about it. I love making time for mentoring and making a difference in someone’s life. It’s a love for me that I don’t think twice about. Many of the young people I’ve mentored are now my friends and I continue to mentor them in informal relationships. I’m happy and blessed by mentoring- it feeds my soul and is a blessing.
Do you feel called to be a mentor? Are you looking for a mentor? The 4word Mentor Program is currently accepting applications for the upcoming fall session. Visit the Mentor Program website today and submit your online application by September 2, 2016!
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Tanya Little is the founder and CEO of Hart Advisors Group LLC, a real estate advisory company. Prior to launching Hart Advisors Group in 2009, Little served as chief operating officer of RBC Capital Markets’ real estate mortgage capital business and was the managing director of marketing for the North America Lending division of GE Real Estate. She is also a member of the Dallas 4word Leadership Team and actively participates in mentoring opportunities.