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Through the Eyes of a Mentor

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I had a number of conversations with people that I have been spending time with in a mentoring role. We talked about how each of us perceived the journey that we were on and was there actually value that we got from our time together. The more we talked the more that it caused reflection on my part. I wondered how people view what they do as mentors on a day to day basis. Do they through their own eyes see the power of mentoring and the impact that it can have on the people they serve and just as importantly – themselves. I wondered what it would be like to ask a number of people that are at various stages of their mentoring career how they perceive what they do through their eyes. I would like to share with you some different perspectives from some people that are very near and dear to my heart. These marvelous individuals are constantly sharing the gift of mentoring and working hard at making a difference in the world today. Here is what they see!

“Through the eyes of a mentor, the phrase reminds us that mentors sometimes view their protégés as a wonderful and complex stories with many layers just waiting to be told. Mentors are skilled communicators and through building trust and creating a safe environment, they can help their protégés uncover the hidden stories, and talents deep within, thus paving the way for personal and professional growth. 

 Skilled mentors can act as a window for protégés to see themselves, as well as their work and personal lives with greater clarity. When a mentorship relationship is strong, protégés often see possibilities within themselves and their path forward, through the eyes of the mentor, who is the vessel and not the source for solutions”.  (John Stott – Winnipeg, Manitoba)

A great mentor is one that is humble. There is no greater reward than being allowed into someone’s “circle of safety” where we both feel safe sharing very precious secrets. Self-reflection is crucial in the mentoring process as it is part of our continuous learning.

“Perspective, greater understanding of others and connection are three of my most valued teachings that I practice and learn as a mentor.  It is a privilege to be invited into someone else’s world; to hear about their challenges and goals.  When I mentor someone I am entrusted with these precious secrets in order to help my mentee move toward success.  In turn, I learn something about myself.” (Morgan Johnson – Calgary, Alberta)

Each person that you get to spend time with as a mentor is unique and we need to tailor our mentoring experience to meet the needs of that person. What you will find out is that they are no different than you. They have their challenges just like you and through the mentoring process you can work together to move forward. The reflective process – forward and backwards is again crucial in a journey such as this.

“I see people just like me: unsure, insecure, some wounded, needing to hear, to see, that they aren’t alone in their journey.  We are all the same. I see people who just need someone to stand beside them, or behind them even, and give words of encouragement and nudges of support and motivation. I see a world full of people who need someone but don’t know it or don’t know they can ask for someone to walk beside them. I see people who don’t see their worth or understand the value of who they are and what they really have to offer. I see a world full of people suffering due to a lack of meaningful relationship that focuses on someone other than themselves.

I see that every person deserves a champion, someone who they know will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and relationship; someone who is committed to helping them become the best version of them possible, the version they don’t see. I see people who don’t understand how much they have to give, how much they need to give.  Perhaps this is not deliberate, maybe they just don’t know that someone needs exactly what they have to give, that someone finds them of value. I see that everyone needs the gift of participating in at least two mentoring relationships.  One where they are the mentor and one where they are the mentee.” (Sandy Zielinski – Regina, Saskatchewan)

Effective mentoring is the ability to build a trusted relationship so that the two way learning can begin. Effective mentoring is about a relationship that is nurturing and non-judgemental. Effective mentoring is about being humble and yet genuine.

 “I see reserved intelligence and an organic sole immerging to fulfill goals and dreams.

Through my eyes as a mentor:

I see two souls sharing, and developing a trusted relationship where there is no judgement.

Through my eyes as a mentor:

I see the ability to learn life lessons through someone else’s experiences.

Through my eyes as a mentor:

I see the opportunity to genuinely care and share with another individual and be in awe with the ability to learn new skills and use them going forward in the future.” (Debra Lawrence – Regina, Saskatchewan)

 Understanding “why” we do what we do is part of being an effective mentor. Knowing the purpose – to be of service as an effective mentor is a part of making the journey a memorable one for both participants. Knowing who we are and having that solid core will provide us with some of the tools that we need to be comfortable going on this journey.

“To be a Mentor is to know My Purpose, My How, and My Why.

It is important to be there for them, to not only listen but to hear what they are saying. Build a trusting relationship. To guide, encourage and support. Working with the Mentee to find solutions and or searching to see what we can try. To know there are ways to think differently. To cultivate new and exciting ways to look at issues and events. To present a whole new toolbox of options available to them! To assist in a person’s personal and professional life by encouraging them to develop critical thinking, self-awareness, and to help the Mentee take their power back. Help them see that they ‘Matter’. That they can lead a life of intention.

 Mentoring also creates a side benefit for me – it keeps me attuned to my own behaviours, thinking, and actions. To have a complete stranger decide they can take a chance to trust me to help them and add more value to their lives is an honour and a privilege.” (Valerie Asher – Regina, Saskatchewan)

The realm of the impossible can become possible if you are open and flexible and leave any bias that you may have at the door. You may have expectations that you have set for yourself but they must remain with you and not be imposed on the person you are spending time with. Remember they are unique and you need to tailor your mentoring to meet their needs. Keep the door open and you too shall learn and grow.

 “Through the eyes of a mentor I have the opportunity to work with many individuals as they question what it is all about, and where they want to end up in the next stage of their life. The key to the work I do with people is to keep an open mind, and to check my bias’s at the door. The most beneficial work I have done is when both parties in the mentoring are open to questioning their points of view, and continue digging deeper and deeper ensuring all blind spots are uncovered. The process provides tremendous growth opportunities for all involved, and I often find myself stating that I am learning more than the person I am working with in the process.” (Dave Sinclair – Edmonton, Alberta. http://businesstransitionsplus.ca/ )

The “gift of mentoring” is a humbling experience but it requires that we as mentors are flexible and open to learning from others. The sharing of something that is personal with each other can be unnerving but once you have begun that journey it will be very rewarding and fulfilling. It truly is a precious gift.

“When I hear the phrase, “through the eyes of a mentor”, the first thing that comes to mind is how, as a mentor, I am able to see the goodness and potential in all of the people that I work with.  Each and every being on this planet, no matter what their challenges may be, has unlimited potential and as a mentor, part of my job is to help them to discover this part of themselves.  

Additionally, my mentees help me to learn and to see aspects of myself that I would like to explore further.  Since both the mentor and mentee learn throughout the mentoring process, I too am able to see myself differently and to grow as an individual.  Just the other day, one of my clients began speaking about forgiveness and how important it is to let things go.  As she was reciting her story, it made me think about how often I have struggled to let go of the past how going forward, I must continue to work on this aspect of myself.

Mentoring is a precious gift on so many levels.  It helps all parties involved to grow and unfold in a safe, respectful, and open environment.” (Sarah Wenaus – Regina, Saskatchewan)

“Through the eyes of a mentor” demonstrates the impact that the “gift of mentoring” has made on mentors who give so much of themselves to help others be the best that they can be and to make the world a better place to be. I applaud the work done by those that have contributed so willingly to this article as they truly are making a difference. Embrace the “gift of mentoring” and begin your journey today.