Everyone Can Lend a Hand Through Mentoring
Posted by Joan Grey on January 26, 2012
At a year old, Rachel can walk. However, when we saw her a month ago, she still preferred assistance. She would commandeer the closest adult. Without a word, she made her needs clear. She would lift her arms and whoever noticed knew to extend a finger or two. She grabbed on and headed off—a 2-foot-tall dynamo leading the stooped over, willing adult.
So, what does this have to do with mentoring? Rachel is not your typical business associate. While my connection with my granddaughter is certainly not professional, our interaction has aspects of mentoring. We have a mutually agreeable relationship that includes respect, communication, and setting boundaries.
Within each of us is the capacity to mentor. And each of us has an area in which we could use mentoring by someone else. Mentoring is more about relationship than skills or knowledge. Probably the biggest “skill” a mentor needs is the desire to help. It’s a relationship built on trust and respect. And it recognizes that at some point, our mentee will no longer need us and be able to “walk” by herself.
A mentor wants her mentee to succeed. Rachel’s ability to walk is independent of me, but my helping hands have encouraged her in the process. And you can bet I’m there to applaud every step she takes. I’m also there to pick her up when she falls; drying tears if needed.
January is National Mentoring Month, focusing on mentoring as a way to give back. This year, Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation is concentrating on women veterans and military wives. BPW Foundation has deployed Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses® (JFWVMS) Mentoring Plus, a program dedicated to helping women veterans and military spouses connect with working women mentors and subject matter experts (SMEs) to receive support, guidance, and career development.
There is a role for everyone to play. Our mentors and mentees are women of all ages, eras, ranks and skills. Follow this link to sign up to be a mentor, subject matter expert or mentee.
Did you ever teach someone how to use Facebook, or knit, or mix a margarita? Congratulations, you have the skills to be a subject matter expert (SME). While, Mentoring Plus is focusing on career-oriented skills, it’s not so different than teaching other things. In the new world of job seeking, there’s overlap between personal and professional roles. A SME might advise you to have a Linkedin profile or possibly edit the photos you post on social media sites. Maybe you’d like to rehearse interview questions and a mentor or SME can help. A mentor may also share contacts on her network, point out opportunities, and open doors.
Rachel’s successes are hers to enjoy. I feel honored to accompany her as she blossoms from baby to toddler. Who knows how her life will unfold, but you can be sure of this: I’ll be there to share and shape and guide the person she becomes. You’ll recognize me by my loud cheering, whether she’s jumping off a diving board or walking across a stage to pick up her diploma. And if you are involved in a mentoring relationship, you can probably relate.
Please help us connect 10,000 women veterans and military spouses with mentors during 2012 by sharing this information on webpages, social media, and at meetings.
If you have questions or need further details, please contact us at JoiningForces@BPWFoundation.org.
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