Do you need a mentor? Or are you a mentor? You get what you give!

Please forgive me, this one is long but it’s a topic close to my heart:-)

Do you have an official or unofficial mentor or coach?

I was on a call last night with an amazing young woman. She is a college graduate from a “good” school with a marketable major and has an interesting, lucrative first job. It is her first job out of college and she hasn’t been there a year yet. She is living my mantra of what we all need – HHSS – Happy, Healthy and Self-supporting. I have always said that is all any of us truly need & we need to focus on that as our outcome. But she reminded me why…..

I also have the dream to see every high school, university, and organization offer coaching and mentoring to it’s students and employees.

And what we need to learn to be true to ourselves and be able to make great, unique choices. So I’d like to share our discussion as it brings out a great point.

 What’s your next move?  

My client has been trying to decide on her next move as far as her career is concerned. Her commitment in her current role is for a year and then she can choose another role to learn more about the company and also herself in the process. She had been offered an exciting new position reporting to a dynamic, positive director, it sounded perfect for her & she was ready to accept that as her next position but then life happened naturally, organically, as it tends to do.

How do you form relationships with others at work?

She had formed a relationship with another “superior” in a “restaurant” in the evening after a conference outside of work. They bonded over discussions about music, “great but obscure guitar players” as a starter.  One of those “random, casual” conversations.  Whether music or some other topic, we all have people that we follow and are in awe of. This of course, led to discussions about bands and songs. They were both amazing, true music fans and “true fans” can talk all night about that amazing rift or great lyric or how a certain vocal makes you feel or songs that you can’t sit down during, the energy of music is never ending and a true connecting force! So a friendship was created, a bond was formed out of mutual respect for another music lover. Both persons also saw the other as someone fun, dynamic and interesting. This occurred because of and in spite of their love for music. As you can imagine, the conversation naturally lead to current challenges in the workplace and many interesting topics were covered.

What 3 things do you do better than anyone else?

Fast forward several weeks and they have an official meeting at the office to discuss her career path. This superior had seen a spark in her and was unofficially “coaching/mentoring” her. What an unexpected gift! He wanted to help her hone in on her talents/gifts to be able to make the best decision for her next step in her career path, so he asked her an inspired question. “What are the 3 things that you do better than anyone else in the world?” And my client was stumped. And she is not a person who doesn’t typically have an answer on the tip of her tongue, believe me. So this bothered her. He suggested that she find the answer to that question and always have it on the tip of her tongue in the future. He had given her “excellent advice” that she could utilize for the rest of her life, unsolicited. This was a true gift to her. So she is searching for her strengths so that she can verbalize them whenever she is asked that question.

Were you raised not to brag? That’s BS.  You need to learn to share your strengths.

It’s strange that I think the lessons we are taught about not bragging and being boastful and thinking of others are valid. But I also see them as a hindrance to our achieving self-awareness combined with humility. Truly successful people are able to share their strengths but still maintain a sense of humility. If someone directly asks you your strengths, there is nothing wrong with being to spout them off as easily as flipping a light switch on.

Do you know your strengths? Can you spout them out in a New York minute if asked?

If yes, that is great! If no, it’s time to spend some time thinking, meditating, being still and figuring it out. You may also need to find a mentor to assist/inspire or work with a coach or enroll in a program and/or utilize some assessments to find some clarity around your strengths and where you want to go with them.

So you were fortunate to find a mentor/coach at work? Lucky duck:-)!!

What if this is not the case?   

There is another take away for me from this moment in time.  I was thrilled to see the unofficial/unassigned coaching/mentoring happening in a small microcosm of a large corporation. But I also wondered if it would have happened if my client were not a demonstrative, very expressive, strong communicator who exudes joy in discussing music. Would that connection have formed if she were a naturally shy, introverted soul? Perhaps not, so how do naturally shy, introverted people find a mentor or coach?

 Are you too shy or introverted to develop these relationships?

Would the same exchange have taken place if my client were a shy, introverted, less verbal and outwardly expressive individual? Do people with those characteristics find their informal coaches/mentors as easily? How do they develop their self-awareness and grow? I  have found over the years that it’s easy to be attracted to the outgoing connector types.

But if you are shy and introverted, it would be beneficial for you to work on your “connecting, relationship building” skills to connect with others to create more opportunities for yourself.

The time spent on learning connecting techniques and perfecting your “gift of gab” around your interests will be invaluable. It’s amazing how fulfilling our personal, “outside of work” hobbies & Interests can deepen our ability to connect with others. Whether it’s music,movies, food, wine, art, theatre, video games, fashion, interior design, dance, travel, or any other ways that people enjoy life and express their individuality, finding someone else who enjoys something you also love is an amazing connector. The key is being open, passionate, and authentic and learning it’s ok to “share yourself”.

Are you giving back by officially/unofficially coaching or mentoring others?

One other lesson that I learned from this exchange is the importance of being a mentor for others.  We all need people.          As Barbara Streisand sang in Funny Girl, “People who need people, Are the luckiest people in the world”. I believe this to be true, sharing our collective energies for the greater good of each other is what makes our hearts sing. I ‘m sure we all have opportunities to assist a colleague, friend or neighbor.

So if you have the chance to help another employee by officially/unofficially coaching or mentoring, go for it!!!! You will feel great for having given back and they will be eternally grateful to you for helping them. I have had several unofficial mentors in my life and each of them has a special place in my heart and I am forever indebted.

Are you also mentoring those who are not “shot out of a cannon”?

 My client exudes positive energy and while it is actually hard for her, she has pushed herself beyond her comfort zone to put herself out there. Why? Because after pushing herself she learned it works and so she has worked to develop these skills.

Being a mentor or coach to help those shy, introverted souls who aren’t as demonstrative, outgoing, expressive and as easily passionate as my client, is an even more crucial need. Those who may have a great deal to offer,  but are not necessarily easily drawn out, often times are hidden gems within your organization. So if you have the opportunity, take the time to connect with someone who may not have that “easy connector” personality type.

You will be helping them find their gift/voice and perhaps their ideas will spark new processes or strategies for you or your organization.  Helping others discover their unique gifts is the greatest gift that we can give them and also a gift to ourselves.

Seeing the light go on in another person and seeing them grow and thrive is like Master Card, “priceless”!

And as the New Radicals will tell you…You only get what you give!  



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