We all want to grow. We all want to reach our full potential in life. We grow through experience, gaining knowledge and learning how to apply these in the future. We go to school, learn a trade, or attend the knowledge centers of our society: universities. After all, the piece of paper we receive shows what we’re capable of. Is it really? There is a more important key ingredient to anyone’s growth. However, this aspect is severely overlooked in our day and age: mentors.
Mentors are role models. They share insight with us and show us how to apply it practically. They set examples which we can try to follow.
Role models are more important than you may think. We need role models to thrive in life. To look up to other people and to follow their example is ingrained in the human nature. This is how we learn and grow.
When I look at my young son, he’s trying to copy me in nearly everything. The other day I was cleaning the house. As I was dusting the shelves, he had to touch the duster and try do it himself. When I vacuumed, he had to hold the vacuum cleaner, too. Especially, the automatic cord winder of the vacuum cleaner he had to press multiple times.
To look up to other people and to follow their example is ingrained in the human nature. – Click to Tweet this
Our first role models in life our are parents or the ones who take care of us. We feel safe with them as we try to engage with them and copy them. I can really see this in my son.
As we grow older we also start to look at our peers. We seek out the ones we like and try to be more like them. There is this urge, or pressure, to copy behavior and appearance.
When we reach adulthood, things change. In the past we could hold on to our family members’ examples, or we could hold on to our friends’ likes or dislikes. But in adulthood, we try to define ourselves.
As adults, we take our lives in directions our parents never went, or we start growing apart from friends as our interests differ more and more. All of a sudden, we enter a path in life that we feel like we’re the first to enter.
This can create a feeling of excitement, or of anxiety. It can give us a sense of newly found freedom, or of paralyzing uncertainty. In our excitement, or probably more naivety, we may make decisions we regret later. But in our fears we hold back and may miss opportunities as they arise.
In these times it is great to have someone who’s walked this path before us, someone more experienced. It is great if could just share our thoughts with this person and ask for their opinion on decisions or opportunities.
Unfortunately, such mentors are not often easily found. As a matter of fact, they are harder to find as education systems become more professionalized and digitally driven. Workplaces often are too focused on productivity and competing for promotions.
Related article: Mentors Wanted: How Did We Lose Them in the First Place?
True mentors are not focused on professionalization or impersonal efficiency. They are not competitive or measure productivity as they advice.
They are focused on building relationships with those they mentor. They are trying to help them reach their full potential in life. They speak into their concerns and their opportunities.
True mentors are focused on building relationships with those they mentor. They are trying to help them reach their full potential in life. They speak into their concerns and their opportunities. – Click to Tweet this
Mentors advice from personal experience. They build safe relationships where they can share personal failures and successes. They also allow those they guide to make up their own minds, spur them on, or tell them why they wouldn’t do it that way. Nonetheless, they allow others to make mistakes and still remain open to help and advice them in the future.
We need people like that on our life journey. We need true role models who we can look up to and learn from. After all, we don’t all have to try to reinvent the wheel. Let’s learn from them and try to build on it. Let’s grow together.
This article is part of the series Mentors Wanted: We All Need Mentors