The Impact of Mentorship
Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? That’s right—although mentorship is an all-year-long activity, this month is one of awareness, encouragement, and celebration!
I’ve written before about the many mentors in my life, like Deak Swanson, a local business leader, who made it possible for me to open the doors to Misty’s Dance Unlimited nearly 24 years ago, and Dave Liniger, of RE/MAX, who took me under his leadership wing after we met in a mastermind group eight years ago. It’s relationships like these that have boosted my confidence as a business owner, fueled ideas and sparked new ones, and allowed me to glean wisdom from people who have been in my shoes. Mentorship has also been key to the way I’ve learned to edit ideas! Because you KNOW I want to do it all—and sometimes I need that extra nudge of patience or advice to pump the brakes. 🙂
BEING a mentor, too, is a life-changing experience. Whether it’s been with dance students or business owners, sitting in the mentor seat for more than two decades has shown me that guiding someone else is a powerful responsibility—one that can’t be replicated in any other way. There is a unique influence that comes with being a mentor: you’re a friend and confidant; part sounding board and part adviser. How great is it to have a role like that in someone ELSE’S life? Pretty darn great!
What I’ve learned over the years is how valuable it is to be BOTH a mentee and a mentor. You get to grow from the lessons of those who’ve “been there” and you get to share your own lessons with those who are rising up. Personally, there’s never been a time in my life where I didn’t benefit from each of those perspectives.
Mentorship, I believe, is the true definition of personal development, and in the small business community, it’s more important than ever. People need relationships to thrive; we all desire to know people who help us reach higher and accomplish more. And because mentorship is one-on-one, it’s a way to know someone at a deeper level—usually over a long period of time. It’s an opportunity to link arms across generations and skills and industries.
Sometimes I think there is a misconception that being a mentor, or having one, is a huge investment of time—and who has all that extra time!? But I have had mentors who I talk to once a once a month, sometimes even less frequently. It’s truly the quality of the time, not the quantity, that counts. Let me put it a different way: Seek out a mentor (or become one) even if the available time you have is limited!
And how do you do just that? I say start at your studio; offer to be a mentor to your goal-getting employees or graduating seniors. Then, look out into your community: is there a business you admire from afar? Reach out to that leader and ask to meet for coffee. Think about who you know from the chamber of commerce, rotary club, arts council, or nonprofit board—perhaps someone there has walked a similar path to the one you’re on now and would be an amazing guide.
There’s a quote from John C. Maxwell, the famous author and speaker known for his leadership, where he says, “One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.”
I love this because he so clearly paints a picture of the mentorship relationship, of having someone by your side to offer direction. The course and the destination still belong to the mentee, but the learning curve can be shortened—or at least better understood!
It is my hope that if you’re reading this, you’re realizing how meaningful it is to cultivate mentor relationships. I urge you to find a mentor if you don’t have one already. Be a mentor to someone who needs a boost. Lean in to your gifts as a leader and a learner. Let’s all be a part of the positive relationship-building that can change the world. <3