Has mentorship really worked for you?

Asked by Marvin P

I have been extremely fortunate in finding and encouraging mentors and mentorship programs. For me, mentorship has helped me avoid costly mistakes in both the monetary and life impact aspects of my career.

When I look back over my life, I realize that the value that I receive from my mentors has as much to do with my willingness to listen as with the mentor’s capacity to impart knowledge and advice. In fact, I purposefully seek out mentors and advisors whose opinions I disagree with because one of my early mentors taught me that each such relationship would be a tremendous learning opportunity. He was absolutely right.

The best mentoring relationships are reciprocal. In my case, we tended to pick each other. They saw something in me that they thought they could nurture and I see all my relationships as learning opportunities.

In most cases, mutual respect has led to lasting friendship. The one possible exception to this may be the relationship I have with my first and most enduring mentor: My mother. We enjoy an extremely close relationship and she still surprises me with her wisdom and insight. However, my respect for her as a life giver, provider and mentor goes far beyond that which can be described in terms usually reserved for simple friendships.

As any educator will tell you, we can learn as much – or more – from our students as we can ever teach them. As a result, I make every effort to keep my mentoring relationships as active as possible for as long as possible with the hope that we are learning from each other. This way my learning gets to evolve as my teachers and I evolve. And isn’t that what mentoring is all about?

I’m interested in questions, comments and feedback either via this blog or directly via my email inbox. You can link to the blog directly at: http://norman-rich.blogspot.com