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On the Power of Mentoring



A few months ago, I met a young woman at a networking group with whom I immediately "vibed." She has a ton of energy, great ideas and insight and I really enjoyed talking with her.

She's in the process of starting her own business and so picked my brain about how I do things at The Bamboo Project. At the same time, I shared with her that I'm also an artist and showed her some of my artist business cards. She immediately fell in love with my work and started talking with me about all these ideas she had for how I could promote the art. 

Since then, we've been meeting regularly, collaborating on some projects, but also providing each other with advice, ideas and a sounding board for our work. Yesterday she came over to my house to talk through a presentation for an entrepreneurial competition she's entered and spent most of the day at my dining room table, working on her plan. 

I've been reflecting on the value of this relationship and thinking about how this kind of mentoring is benefiting both of us.

At 28, she looks up to me as someone who is more "established" as a business person and picks my brain for how to handle things like setting up contracts and developing client relationships. I recommend books for her to read (she told me that she feels like she's back in college with my "syllabus") and suggest resources for her to check out. 

In this process, I am able to step back a little and see myself in a different light. I see my strengths and what has made me successful and that's been a powerful reminder about what I want to do more of in my work.

Talking through what I do and how I do it has also helped me see where some parts of my work life are growing too small for me and how I am wanting to move in some different directions. Our conversations clarify for me what needs to shift. 

What has also been powerful is her mentoring of me. She brings a different perspective and a "beginner's mind" to things that is helpful. She asks good questions and shares insights that make me think. And her enthusiasm and energy are infectious, so if I start to lose steam or second-guess myself on something, she's able to re-energize me and keep me moving. 

Understand, we've fallen into this mutual mentoring relationship somewhat accidentally. There was no formal pairing of us as mentor/mentee. Instead, we followed the energy, realizing that our interactions with each other were inspiring and supportive and that we both wanted that to continue. 

I also feel that what makes it more powerful is that it's mutual. I'm not just acting from a place of being this older, more experienced person dispensing my wisdom to a younger colleague. I'm benefiting from the relationship too, possibly more than she is. Mentoring, I believe, has to be a two-way street to really get you anywhere. 

So today, I'm celebrating the power of the mentoring relationship, recognizing how it is enriching my work life. 

What about you? How are you mentoring someone? How is someone mentoring you? What makes that mentoring relationship rich and meaningful? 



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