- You can influence someone’s life directly and often quickly.
- You can contribute to the betterment of an individual and society at large.
- You can become a better you by placing someone else first.
- You can better appreciate the effects of a mentor on your dreams, aspirations and successes.
Each of the aforementioned points are key takeaways from the joy of being a mentor to someone, whether personally or professionally. Furthermore, mentoring is a proven strategy that is integral for long lasting and positive development of our youth.
Studies have shown that children are less likely to engage in risky behavior with drugs and alcohol, enhance their learning skills and help develop self-resillency and self control, and more likely to succeed in life when they have the additional support of a quality mentor.
Last year, President Barack Obama declared January, National Mentoring Month. In that declaration, the President stated:
“Nobody succeeds on their own: each young person’s strength and resilience is fostered by those who have taught them they can do anything they put their mind to. Whether helping mentees study for a test, learn a new skill, or lift their heads up after a setback, mentors provide them the chance they need to move forward and set their sights even higher. And in helping mentees achieve their goals, mentors can inspire them to reach back and provide the same support to someone else in need of a mentor.”
If you are unsure about committing, think of mentors or individuals (even if no one used the term “mentor”) as someone who helped you in your quest to succeed. President Obama is correct, everyone who succeeds in their endeavors has someone giving them a boost, whether they knew it or not. I have been fortunate at the many turns in my life to have been guided by great mentors who took the time to offer a piece of their wisdom and experience to help shape my next steps. And, I have tried to pay it forward by giving my time in the same capacity. It is my belief that we each have such a debt to those who thought us worthy to help along our journey, to do the same for another regardless of our vocation or station in life.
I was talking with a doctor friend of mine the other day about my blog topic this week, and the issue came up of how he entered the medical field. He told me that a high school English teacher had offered encouragement and a pat on the back as he began those budding steps towards medical school. I asked, “Did you ever tell the teacher what an impact his encouragement had on your educational and career path?” “No,” he replied. I told him that I would help him try and track him down so he could give him a call and tell his former teacher about the influence he had on him.
We were able to track his teacher down and my friend called him. He thanked his former English teacher for his help and encouragement. His former teacher was so overwhelmed by the call and the sentiment that he could barely talk, as he choked up with emotion. This is more than a touching story it speaks to the poignancy of my earlier point, because all of us have someone to whom we owe thanks. And that is the power of mentoring.
If you have someone like that English teacher who influenced my friend, tell him or her. And if you have someone like that, then honor that person by being a mentor to someone who needs a lift in life just as you once did. Sometimes, we might tend to forget our trepidation and insecurities that anchored themselves in our youthful personalities. Do any of us remember what that key element was when someone paid attention to you? The element was caring. Maybe not like a loving parent or sibling. But we knew that they were truly interested in us.
Give mentoring a try. It offers each of us a chance to make a difference in someone’s life. The where and how? Look around you. You’ll find some young girl or boy who seems a little lost, a bit lonely or displays a touch of yearning. Step in and become their mentor. I promise you the dividends of mentoring increase as time passes. And, what you invest today may take years to actually return a full dividend through a mentee’s life, but it truly is so worth the investment. That’s my take, what’s yours?