Try These Tips to Be a Good Mentor
If you ask any successful person what helped them along their journey to success they will undoubtedly mention a person who took an interest in them early on and invested in their life. Someone they would call their mentor.
I have been strongly influenced by people who took an interest in me and my work with teenagers and young adults and helped guide and direct me and my ministry over many years. I believe God placed these mentors in my life to help shape who I am today. Likewise, I have tried to make a difference in the lives of the people who call my radio show by speaking truth to them, being a positive influence in their lives and connecting them with TheHopeLine and our partners.
Have you had a good mentor in your life? Are you in a season where you need to find a mentor to help give you direction? Could you be a good mentor for someone else?
Mentoring makes such a difference in the lives of others, that the United States designated the entire month of January as National Mentoring Month.
Here are some benefits a good mentor provides:
- The assurance that there is someone out there who cares for them.
- A consistent presence in their life that they don’t want to disappoint, so they try hard.
- A person who can hold them accountable for achieving the goals they set.
- A resource to bounce ideas off of and help process difficult situations.
- A voice of truth and guidance to keep someone on the right path.
- The encouragement that someone believes in them and has their back.
Quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on people in their personal lives, in social situations, in their education and careers.
This short video shares an e-mail mentor success story:
I think this world could be an amazing place if we stopped being so focused on ourselves and started investing in the lives of others. So this blog is my way of encouraging you today to open your eyes to the people in your life who may benefit from your influence. You don’t need to go announce to them that you are going to be their mentor, but you can start showing an interest in their life, you can invite them out for coffee or a soda and just give them an opportunity to talk.
8 Tips For Being a Good Mentor:
(Many of these also apply to being a good friend as well.)
- BE TRUSTWORTHY. It is important that they fully believe you have their best interest at heart…that you genuinely care. Your motives cannot be selfish. If you are doing this to look like a hero or look like an expert, they will pick up on that. It needs to be about them so that they can trust you with the junk in their lives.
- BE SAFE. You want to be their safe place. A place they don’t fear judgement. A place they can share their fears, their mistakes, their vulnerabilities and you will not walk away. You won’t laugh at them. You are safe to confide in.
- BE CONSISTENT. Be a person they can count on. If you say you are going to meet at a certain time, be there. If you are going to attend an event, be there. They need to know they can count on you.
- BE TRANSPARENT. It’s O.K., even helpful, to let them know you struggle too. You will be more relatable. In fact, knowing you faced challenges, and succeeded despite them, might give them hope for themselves. Using personal stories and experiences is also often a good way to communicate and influence their way of thinking. People often relate to stories much more easily than straightforward advice. However, when sharing your story, you must remember that this is NOT about you. It is still about them.
- BE CURIOUS. This might be the most important quality on this list…much more important than offering good advice. Because if you aren’t curious about their life, if you aren’t willing to ask them lots of questions to discover what brought them to where they are today, why they view the world the way they do, and what it is like to walk in their shoes, then you have no right to offer advice. Additionally, learning to ask them questions rather than just throwing advice at them will help them “buy in” to a solution. They need to discover the solution on their own. Research shows that if someone offers you advice or simply shares an opinion with you, your brain tends to interpret that as a threat to your own ideas. On the flip side questions are embraced by the brain. Here are some questions to help get you started: What’s going well for you right now? What isn’t? What’s something you’re feeling frustrated about? Where are you feeling stuck? What’s something you’ve learned recently that you’re excited about? What would you like to be different in a month? In a year? Two years?
- BE PATIENT. A person will change when they decide to change. Don’t expect them to immediately make perfect decisions once you walk into their life. But stick with them, even when it’s frustrating. They might continue to make some bad decisions for a while but be patient and be a consistent presence in their life.
- BE A VOICE OF REASON. As you seek to guide them, much of your role will involve helping them process what the next right step to take is. You are a sounding board for them to bounce ideas off of and then a facilitator…asking them questions to help them come up with their own answers. If they ask for your opinion, say something like, “Sure, I’ll give you my opinion. But first I’d like to hear what you think about it.” Change and growth are hard work. But help them reason out what the alternative is. Is it better to stay in the same place with the same consequences? Or to do the hard work of moving forward to a better future?
- BE A CHEERLEADER. Celebrate their accomplishments. Build them up. Let them know you believe they can do whatever they put their mind to. Encouragement is the muscle that helps them take the first step toward change.
The benefits of mentoring both for the mentor and mentee are vast. If you are interested in making a last impact on someone’s life, become a mentor. There are many great organizations seeking volunteer mentors, to find an organization in your area check this out: http://www.mentoring.org/get-involved/become-a-mentor/
If you are in a season of life where you could really benefit from having mentor you can sign up for an e-mail mentor through TheHopeLine here – https://www.thehopeline.com/email-mentor-signup/ or find a mentor in your community here http://www.mentoring.org/get-involved/find-a-mentor/.
Have you benefited from a mentor? Give them a shout out in the comments below.