People learn in different ways.
Some of us learn by doing, some of us learn by studying and some of us learn best from others.
Some of us utilise a combination of the three.
While my learning methods differ depending on the subject, I always get the most value, the most quickly, from personal relationships.
The amount I’ve absorbed from my various mentors over the years has helped me get ahead in many areas of my life.
The business, freelancing and programming aspects of my career have all profited from the mentorship provided to me by others.
I’ve progressed in all of these areas at a faster pace than I would have without this input.
Having benefitted from being a mentee and as someone who enjoys helping others through my experiences - in this article, I’ll dive a little deeper into my thoughts on mentorship.
A good mentor is someone who is:
- Where you aspire to be in a certain area.
- Skilled in something that you study.
- Exploring trains of thought that you relate to.
- Patient, humble and genuinely wants to help by sharing.
- Able to convey points well in person, during calls and in written communication.
- Willing to listen and advise in equal measures.
During my life, I’ve found mentors in two ways:
Look towards the relationships you already have.
You may have a good connection with a family member, friend, teacher or colleague.
If you learn well from them, ask if they’d explore the possibility of mentoring you more proactively.
This avenue has been super successful for me, having found long-term mentors in family and colleagues.
By searching online for mentors and thought leaders in your field of interest, you’ll likely find specialist individuals.
Many will author books, blog posts or videos. If this content resonates with you and provides value, it may be worth initiating a one-on-one mentorship.
From here, you can work on things that are important to you in a more tailored nature.
Perhaps you’ve struck up an understanding with someone on social media. Could they help you get ahead?
You’ll be able to build the same level of rapport with an online mentor as an in-person one if it’s the right fit.
I’ve had some of my most worthwhile conversations with mentors over email, Skype, Slack and Twitter.
There are both mutual and individual benefits.
Life is all about connections and so is business. Having a go-to person you can consult with on topics of interest is good for the soul.
Being a mentor or a mentee widens your understanding of a topic by gaining an alternative perspective.
Mentorship benefits your personal growth. On both sides of the relationship.
From a mentors side specifically, the main benefit is that it’s a sincerely awesome feeling to help someone who was in your shoes 2, 5 or 10 years ago.
Sure, I feel great about launching web projects that I’ve worked on; but the buzz I get from genuinely making a difference to someone is greater.
I assume the feeling is similar to what a school teacher feels seeing a student progress in class.
You can be at the top of your field, but if you’re not giving back in some way, people miss out. Yourself included.
Through a mentees lense, I would say the main individual advantage is getting ahead. And doing so quickly.
The three main interests in my career are business, freelancing and web development. I’m lucky to have had strong influence from people in all of these areas. People who were further down the line in their careers than I was at that particular stage.
My first mentor, and my current business mentor, is my Dad. He’s been running his own accountancy firm for decades and the knowledge I’ve gained from him has been invaluable.
Although we’re quite different in terms of our business approach, the fundamentals he’s instilled in me from an early age still serve me well each day.
The insight he established in me has assisted my freelancing career too. With that said, I’ve always been a keen learner in this field and have often sought out my own mentors.
Jonathan puts a ton of helpful content out that has boosted my freelancing efforts over the years.
Using the internet we can find mentors across the globe.
While Jonathan and Chris aren’t mentors to me in a everyday, one-on-one sense, their content has had a huge affect on where I am today.
Since my early coding days, I’ve worked with many supremely talented developers as part of amazing teams. Each person I class as a mentor.
The things I’ve picked up from others in code review and pair programming sessions (shout out Gaya Kessler) has sky rocketed the pace of my learning.
Aside from career based matters, I’ve found mentors in close friends and family on subjects like fitness and cooking. Both topics that I needed particular education on in my early twenties that has benefitted me into my thirties.
We’re each a unique product of the little bits of knowledge each person shares with us.
Being advised, trained, schooled and counselled by mentors in key areas of my life has lead me to get further in front, faster.
I wouldn’t call mentorship an easy route to success (there’s still a lot of work involved), but it’s a solid shortcut to it.