Give Back Through Mentoring - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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Give Back Through Mentoring

Give Back Through Mentoring

Many of us have had mentors in our lives to help guide and direct us. A person who assisted us in avoiding the pitfalls and mistakes they had to overcome. An individual willing to share their expertise and wisdom. Someone who motivated us to become better. Having mentors has completely changed my life. Perhaps it is the same for you.

Now, at 58, I still have mentors. Their sage advice continues to influence my path in life. One of the best pieces of advice given to me is to pay it forward by mentoring others.

As a mentor, you can have a dramatic positive impact on others. Your knowledge, experience and encouragement can help them overcome struggles and chart a course to success. However, if you invest time and energy in being a mentor, you must make sure that your mentee is taking the relationship seriously. Here is how I accomplished that.

When someone asks me if I will mentor them, I tell them that I would love to but that they must do something first. I ask what topics they are most interested in learning more about. Then I assign them three books in that area and request that they write a book report on each. I let them know that when they finish that we can meet to discuss the books.

I have had more than 100 people ask me to be their mentor throughout my career. How many read the books and wrote the reports? Four. But those folks have been spectacular. They come to meetings prepared. They ask lots of questions. They follow my advice and act on what they are learning. It is an absolute joy to spend time with them. 

I also derive great benefits from the mentoring relationship. I think I learn as much as they do. I revel in their successes. I am honored that they would ask me to mentor them. It is fulfilling to help others in the way my mentors have helped me.

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You have unique gifts to share with others. Your life experiences enrich those who have not gone through what you have. Ideas you have learned along the way are novel to those still growing. If you can make the time to mentor someone, it will be time well spent. And it does not have to be someone younger than you. I have mentors who are 40 years younger than me who assign me book reports. They teach me about technology and how their generation views the business world. I am also lucky enough to have mentors spread across the globe. Age does not matter. Location does not matter. All that matters is a genuine desire to learn and grow. Mentoring is an opportunity to alter the destiny of both the mentor and mentee. Do not pass up this opportunity.

By John Spence.

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