Okay, I’ll admit it.
I talk about mentoring a lot.
I talk about being a mentor, about being mentored, about how important and valuable it is to find mentors and/or mentees. It’s not just limited to 4word, either. Most of my good friends and most of my colleagues at work would tell you they’ve heard the “M” word from me more than once!
I’m passionate about mentoring because I’ve seen and experienced how powerful it is.
As I talk to people about mentoring, I’ve heard from many women who don’t feel like they have enough to offer a potential mentee. “Maybe in a few years,” they say, “when my career (or family, or faith) is more established.”
“DON’T WAIT!” I want to shout (but don’t, usually).
You don’t need to “have it all together” in order to help someone else along. Mentors do bring wisdom and experience, but often the most valuable thing a mentor offers isn’t what they’ve accomplished, or any particular experience they’ve had, its themselves. They offer who they are. We all have different God-given strengths and weaknesses. When you take your strengths, whatever they may be, and offer them up to support another person, big things happen.
Bridges get built.
The experience of mentoring in this way can be exhilarating.
That’s not to say that you have to say “yes” to every mentoring opportunity that comes your way. Over-committing yourself doesn’t do anyone any favors! A few years ago I was asked to take part in an international women’s mentoring program operated through the Bush Center’s Women’s Initiative Fellowship. At the time, my life was simply too full for that kind of commitment and I had to say no. This year, however, I am proudly taking part. And I am loving it!
By some measures you might say I’m not terribly qualified to help my mentee, Sabrine. Her aspirations and goals involve businesses in which I have almost no experience. She’s an entrepreneur; I’ve always worked as part of larger corporations. She has diverse business interests including restaurants and call centers; I’ve been in one industry, commercial real estate, for decades. Oh yeah, and did I mention she’s Tunisian? English is not her first language… It’s her third (and she speaks it brilliantly)!
I first met Sabrine in March. I got to spend some time with her in person, and now that she’s returned home we spend about an hour every two weeks talking over a video call. We catch up on each others lives and then we review the progress she’s making towards her goals. I try to provide practical feedback and ideas where I can, and sometimes I’m able to connect her with experts in her field, but I’ve realized that most of what I bring to Sabrine is encouragement, focus, and confidence. It’s a great joy and honor to see some of my personal strengths combining with Sabrine’s to build something new.
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Are you looking to build bridges with a mentor or mentee of your own? Check out 4word’sMentor program, applications for the upcoming summer session are due this Friday.