Navigating the waters of independence, individuality, and interdependence can be very tricky. As adults, we feel as if we should be able to navigate through most of life’s storms and trials on our own. When we can not- ego kicks in, tells us that our independence has been threatened and we should feel weak because we needed help. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Food for thought: Asking for help is actually a sign of strength; it shows maturity, humility, courage, and the ability to grow.
What is a mentor? A mentor is someone who is willing to come alongside you, train you, and gives you a tour of their lives. It is taking a voluntary step to place yourself in accountability so that you can grow. The dictionary defines mentoring as a person who advises or trains; emphasizing mentoring as a process for teaching folks younger than you. Let’s explore and expand the definition just a bit. Using the dictionary definition makes a person think that they do not need a mentor, but I am here to advise you that if you want to keep growing, mentoring is not only needed but required. I have had older mentors, mentors who have been my age or younger, and mentors who I call “mentors from afar,” meaning that they have mentored me through their books or videos. Their words have expanded my thinking and equipped me for the paths that I would take in my journey. And because they were willing to share their successes and their failures, I avoided those pitfalls when they came my way, well, most of them. Sometimes we think we know more than we think we know, i.e., pride.
Mentorship is not about age; it is about learning knowledge from a person who has expertise in a subject. Once you impose categories of folks that you do not “need” advice from such as age, gender or race, you shut down the gift of their experience that has been given to you. If you play video games, think of mentors, leaders, and coaches as cheat codes to get you through the game of life with fewer obstacles. Who wouldn’t want that? Like, for real?
Being a mentor or aka, cheat code, is an honor and comes with its own set of insecurities. Have my mistakes and failures “common sense” things that should have been avoided? Will I be exposed as a fraud (imposter syndrome)? Are these people just pursuing a mentor to use the information to mock me and/or some other sinister plot? Will they become better than me? Doh! Am I worthy enough to be a mentor? The mind can play some serious games. However, it is worth it to overcome your own internal battles to reach out to help others on the ladder to success. As for me personally, as a mentor, I EXPECT that the ones that I help along the way will do better than me and go further.
Climbing the ladder of success “on your own” and bootstrapping is a myth. Someone paved the way. Someone held the ladder, someone was probably at the top reaching for your hand to assist you in transitioning from the ladder to the level ground of promotion. The biggest obstacle to asking someone to mentor you is often the accountability portion that comes with it. It is a common misnomer that accountability threatens your independence or uniqueness. When done correctly, accountability is the beauty of uniqueness; accountability exposes gifts and lets them loose. A good mentor knows how to bring the best out of a person, give them the best of themselves and still ensure that they both keep their uniqueness. It is my hope that everyone has people in their life who encourage them to identify their goals, grow into their uniqueness and pursue their goal, whether the person goes by a mentor or not. It is important to note that you do not need a mentor for every life decision or to bear your entire soul in either role, boundaries are important here too. The journey to mentorship can be an awesome opportunity for both parties. If done correctly, both parties will learn and grow further than either of them thought possible.
Mentoring is a highlight of humanity and shows us how to light the way to interdependence and independence simultaneously. In light of the digital age, it may be one of the most important way to keep our humanity at the forefront of who we are. Learning from each other is the power of the three areas discussed here- interdependence, independence, and individuality. Got Life Goals? Get a mentor, a coach, or an accountability partner and get going!