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What being a mentee taught me about being a mentor

Building a relationship with a mentor is one of the most important investments you can make in yourself and your future. My mentors have helped me grow as a person, as an entrepreneur and as a leader, empowering me to discover untapped potential and strengths within myself that have been instrumental to my success.

Mentors are so valuable because they help us set goals and hold ourselves accountable. They keep us authentic and honest by providing an objective outside perspective and help us maintain the kind of positive mindset that’s essential to achievement.

I truly believe I was able to advance so quickly early on in my military career due to the encouragement and support of mentors. I was especially fortunate to have strong female mentors who not only paved the way for me and other up-and-coming women in the military, but also took the time to offer guidance and insight so I could benefit from their experiences.

Today, as the founder and CEO of a multi-million dollar company, Xtreme Solutions, Inc., and a board member of the Women Presidents’ Organization, I am honored to pass on my knowledge and experience by mentoring a new generation of bright young entrepreneurs. I still seek guidance from my mentors, but I find my own role as a mentor equally rewarding.

If you’ve never mentored before, it can be intimidating at first – luckily, I spent many years as a mentee learning valuable lessons about good mentorship. Here’s what being a mentee taught me about being a mentor:

Mentorship is a two-way exchange

As in any relationship, if one person is doing all the giving while the other just takes and takes, at least one of you will be very unhappy and the relationship will not thrive. A healthy mentor-mentee relationship isn't one-sided, but rather a two-way exchange of information, ideas and support. In other words, your mentee should also bring something to the table!

You don’t have to have all the answers

Don’t shy away from becoming a mentor because you think you don’t have enough experience or enough knowledge to share. A good mentor provides the space and support their mentee needs to discover their own answers. They simply plant the seeds, provide a little water, then watch as something incredible grows.

The relationship must be nurtured to stay strong

When you make a commitment to become a mentor, honor that commitment! That means staying in regular contact, keeping your meetings and sometimes going the extra mile for your mentee. A mentorship relationship must be nurtured in order to grow and continue benefiting both of you.

Sometimes it’s ok to “break up”

It’s essential to ensure your mentor-mentee relationship is a good fit before diving in; but even so, sometimes things just don’t work out. If you realize it’s time to move on, for both your sakes, communicate it compassionately to your mentee and perhaps refer them to a colleague or other contact who might be a better fit for their needs.

Being a mentor is an investment in your future, too

Your investment in mentoring others will pay off in dividends down the road. I can’t think of how many times I’ve had the pleasure of returning the favor to past mentors who have helped me in my life and career. By guiding others, you are creating a network of future success stories who will be champions in your corner and shoulders lifting you up when you need it.

Do you have a mentor in your life, or do you currently mentor someone else? Join the NewVIEW NewCHALLENGE Facebook group to share your insight about the life-changing power of mentorships.

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