As I begin my 3rd month in my new position, I am reminded of just how important mentoring is in the development of all people, especially those in leadership.
Today, as I write this, I’m on day 2 of a 3-day weekend. I’m thankful for the extra day to rest and also to reflect. I began this weekend with my mind consumed with thoughts about work. I have soooo much to do. It feels like I’ll never catch up sometimes. But I know that’s just a feeling. So as I sat on my couch, thoughts racing, I had a moment when I realized exactly what was missing. I hadn’t spoken to my mentor about the work things that occupy my thoughts the most. Don’t get me wrong; we’ve talked. We’ve shared lunch and caught up on all things new. But we hadn’t talked the way I really needed to talk. I’m so thankful for the authenticity of our relationship. Saturday morning I didn’t send her a fluff message, and I didn’t ask for coaching session. My text literally said “I need your advice on how to handle some things at work. When can you talk?” She graciously replied with, “Call me now.” It was honestly the best 45 minutes of my professional week.
I’ve written on this blog before about the necessity of self-awareness (linked here and here ). I’ve written about mentorship, too (linked here). I still believe self-awareness is a critical skill everyone should develop. And I also believe that there comes a time when self-awareness isn’t enough. The problem is simply this: when we see ourselves, it’s always through our own lens. As humans, try as we may, it’s extremely difficult to have an objective opinion of our own situation(s). That’s where having a good mentor (or a few) comes in. It was so valuable to see things from another perspective. It was also insightful to see where I could modify my own behaviors to possibly yield different results.
This post is not meant to be a comparison between self-awareness & mentorship. It’s a testament to both. Self-awareness keeps you reflective and in a position to change. Mentorship, when experienced correctly, gets you out of your echo chamber. It prods you to reflect even more than you could do on your own. The connection with others who can see our lives and our actions from a neutral, objective place is an invaluable component of our growth. From the careful insertion of a different view point to the subtle suggestion to handle something slightly differently than our instinct may have told us, mentorship has the power to change our trajectory for the better.
My mentoring village continues to grow and change as I grow and change. But one constant remains, the village. I encourage you to surround yourself with others who will continue to push you outside of your comfort zone, support you while you’re there, encourage you, and hold you accountable. And a special thanks goes to the ladies and gentlemen in my village. I am who I am because you are who you are. Thank you for selflessly pouring into me. I promise to continue to pay it forward…