One of the most common characteristics among truly successful people is that many of them have been lucky enough to have a mentor (or several throughout their lives). Having a mentor to help you can be a major leap in your performance and career. But, what does “MENTOR” mean?
“Mentor” was the proper name of a character in the Odyssey. Odysseus went to the Trojan War and commissioned Mentor to take care of his son Telemachus. After the end of the war, Ulysses does not appear and Telemachus and Mentor decide to go looking for him throughout Greece. During this journey, Mentor helps Telemachus to fend for himself and to be more competent. As a result of this story, mentor became the word that defines a person who helps another to improve through advice, teaching and example. Today, we can say that mentor is synonymous with a person’s guide, tutor and advisor.
And mentoring is the relationship of personal development in which a more experienced person or with greater knowledge helps another less experienced or with less knowledge.
As well-known actor Denzel Washington says, “Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor”.
According to the North American consulting firm Gallup, having “someone at work who encourages and enhances your development” is one of the most important factors in improving the levels of involvement and performance that a person shows in their work. In addition, Gallup shows that the importance of having a mentor is not only for young professionals but is equally important for more senior and experienced workers.
The figure of the mentor takes different names depending on the culture or the country, such as: coach, advisor, support, friend, tutor… In short, someone who accompanies another person in their professional and personal development.
Ken Blanchard, a well-known writer and management expert, created the acronym M.E.N.T.O.R. to explain the 6 keys to good mentoring:
- M: of mission. In any mentoring relationship, the purpose of the mentoring relationship must be clear. Objectives to be achieved must be clearly defined.
- E: of engagement. There must be a decided commitment between the mentor and the mentee to work together to achieve the stated objectives.
- N: of networking. It has to do with taking advantage of the mentor’s contacts and cultivating personal and professional relationships that can help the mentee in their development.
- T: of trust. It is absolutely essential that the mentor and mentee have a relationship based on trust. Telling the truth and connecting on a personal and professional level is essential to gain confidence. Building trust takes time … but can be destroyed in an instant.
- O: of opportunity. One of the most important responsibilities of the mentor is to generate new opportunities for his mentee as a fundamental pillar of his development.
- R: of review. Mentoring relationships should be reviewed frequently. Assess the progress made, compare it with the goals set and renew the mentoring agreement.
In my life I have been fortunate to have great mentors. Some in an organized and professional way when working for a large company and others in a less formal and more personal way. But in any case, I have been fortunate to have great people who have helped me a lot in my personal and professional development. I encourage you to look for your mentors, they will surely be of great value to you. Because, as the Canadian writer Bob Proctor said, “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you”.