In most of my articles, I have always mentioned the need for a support group. A caring and committed support group should be a huge part of your life, if you are unemployed. By the way, this support group could consist of one person or two. It does not need to be team of a dozen. It could be a close friend, your significant other, or a mentor.
With that said, what is a mentor? Really, what is a mentor? There is the dictionary definition. There is common knowledge definition, but what does it mean to you? You need a mentor, particular when the road is or gets rocky. But to know you need a mentor is not enough, because you must also know what a mentor is.
The classic definition is a more experienced, older individual who guides the younger, or less experienced person to success. But, why would the older, more experienced individual do this? How does this person benefit from this exchange? The older person transfers knowledge and wisdom, the other reciprocates with – what?
Almost every organization has a mentoring program. From educational organizations to the military to almost every Fortune 500 company pairs up incoming people with people already in place. The latter mentors the former. I do not think that is mentoring. That could be called sponsoring or helping new people acclimate to the new organization, the new policies, and new culture. It may meet the classic definition but not mine.
Those kinds of mentoring programs lack a key ingredient. The key ingredient is a personal bond and relationship between the two.Â Before leaving for Troy, Odysseus asked Mentor to look after Telemachus, to in effect, be the surrogate father. Mentor became the first mentor.
A mentor is a trusted friend and coach. It is an individual whose vested interest is in the success of her friend. The motive is altruistic in the finest meaning of the word.
Finding a mentor is not simply dialing up SCORE and asking someone there to be a mentor. It is not asking a faculty leader in the next office for advice. Do not get me wrong, all the people you contact for advice and information will most likely give you good advice. But a mentor is like a surrogate father or older brother who deeply cares about your success and will do what they can to help.
But a mentor will not hold your hand. A mentor will not do your research for you. A mentor will not do your thinking for you. If anything, a mentor is really your sounding board. He is someone to share your plans, your fears, and your successes with (not unlike your wife or husband, actually). Mentor is your older, wiser alter ego.
A mentor helps you formulate your thought processes. A mentor helps focus and sharpen your approach. Bottom line, you need a mentor. As you navigate the uncharted waters of unemployment, you most definitely need a trusted advisor and friend to help you and guide you. Someone who can knock you on the side of head occasionally and give you encouragement and strength when you need it.
Where do you find your mentor? How about right in front of you? How about your father or older brother? What about a favorite teacher or professor that you stayed in contact with? Perhaps you have a bond with a church leader. Look at the people in your life and look for those with wisdom, experience, and success. And you will find your mentor.