The Magic of Mentoring

4 02 2011

Few among us can honestly look back and say that we didn’t, at some point, have the benefit of sage advice or caring support from a mentor. Maybe it took the form of a gentle nudge, or a wake-up call. Mentors give us what we need in order to keep moving forward, to push for success. They see potential in us, they envision our accomplishments, and they listen, offer guidance, and model the qualities to which we aspire. I certainly had these people in my life, and still do. I am grateful for their influence and humbled by their generosity of spirit.

I recently had an opportunity to offer just that kind of support. Not my first experience at mentoring (although this was a first meeting so it really wasn’t mentoring as much as advice-on-the-fly). But it brought to mind the previous experiences of encouraging and guiding young or emerging talent. As with most gifts, it feels wonderful to give this kind of support. But most important, in my line of work, is the potential it has to multiply and result in benefits never imagined. My career has focused on the not-for-profit world, and my expertise comes from many years spent working with organizations and agencies of all kinds. To mentor someone who might go forward to work within these same community causes is a genuinely inspiring experience. What project might they one day spearhead? How will their contributions better our society? I’ve seen what can happen early in a career, when insight or inspiration can spark an avalanche of ideas and motivation. Even today, after some 30 years in this field, I still have people in my life who do just that for me. I am thankful for that, and for the opportunity to offer that to others whenever it arises.

If you haven’t had the experience of mentoring someone, look for the opportunity and act upon it. You won’t regret it. If you were mentored at some point in your life, it’s a perfect way to “pay it forward”. You never know what magic may result.

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