Mentor and Mentee
There are so many benefits to being both a mentor and mentee that it may be difficult to distinguish which position gains more out of the relationship. In interviewing Naomi Rhode, who has literally mentored hundreds, if not thousands of people in her life, her words confirmed this fact. Naomi defined the different levels of mentorship that has made this possible in her life which are: short-term, long-term and really long-term for mentor and mentee. Those principles are applicable for most every person and relationship level.
Naomi has spoken in all fifty states and fifteen foreign countries, mostly speaking with health care professionals and team members in the medical and dental fields. In her travels, she found all levels of mentorship opportunities were available if she listened and paid attention to those people around her.
As a historical fact, the very first mentor is assumed to appear in Greek mythology in Homer’s classic The Odyssey, about 800BC. When Odysseus disappeared to fight the Trojan War, going on his ten-year odyssey, he entrusted his friend Mentor with the task of bringing up his son. A mentor in the biblical sense (Titus 2:3-5, written about 64-65 A.D.) is a relationship between someone older to someone younger, mostly speaking to women. In this article, we will look at the different levels of mentorship, your platform as a mentor and mentee and looking for the opportunity to be a mentor and mentee.
Levels for a Mentor and Mentee
A mentor does not necessarily need to be older in age but can be older in experience. It’s helpful to look at realistic timelines of short-term, long-term and really long-term. Short-term can occur as quickly as a conversation at an event or within a phone call. These short-term experiences can crop up unexpectedly with a question as simple as How’s your day today? This has happened to Naomi many times and she shared how important it was to be ready to listen and not immediately respond after asking that question.
Our tendency is to talk and walk all over the conversation, not intently listening or watching the body language of the other person. As you keep your mouth shut and listen, there will be more questions that will naturally come to the surface that you can ask. It may surprise you the impact one short conversation can have as you listen and offer a few simple words of encouragement or advice. The most important principle here is to listen. Short-term can also span the timeline of a month or two with a specific goal in mind. There is no hard and fast rule to the length.
Long-term doesn’t have to be a long time but it does take more of a commitment. A long-term mentorship can be set up for a couple months or even a year with a stated purpose. It signifies more of a commitment than short-term. Really long-term can go beyond a long-term timeline, even without an ending date specified. These types of relationships or groups become more of a lifetime group, feeding into each other. I speak about this in chapter 7 of Women at Halftime book.
Your Platform as a Mentor and Mentee
I tend to be an initiator of putting groups and events together but a relationship that begins as a mentor relationship can easily turn into being a mentee, receiving as much or even more from the value of the relationship. As I continue to give to others, I find this is often the case as I get so much out of the value of the relationship, continuing to learn.
This is a principle that has been duplicated many times in my life, especially with really long-term mentorships. It’s one of the benefits of teaching and training others. The teacher tends to learn at least as much as the student, if not more.
I don’t think anyone ever arrives as an all-knowing mentor as we all still have areas in which to grow and learn. A mentor to others can easily crossover to be a mentee, learning from others with more life or business experience in a certain area. Naomi, a very strong and capable mentor, was encouraged by her husband to start a group for widows. It was launched out of her own fear of someday being a widow, losing her father at the age of thirteen. Then she cared for her ill mother for the next ten years until she lost her at the age of twenty-three. The facilitation of this widows group has given Naomi as well as other women a safe, strong place to meet and share their fears. The benefits she has experienced at least matched those of others in attendance and the materials she developed are now being duplicated for other similar groups.
Looking for the Opportunity to be a Mentor and Mentee
There are constant opportunities around us if we just open our eyes and ears to see and listen. Naomi’s perspective broadened my view of mentorship in that it doesn’t have to be a structured program, although structure is beneficial in getting others involved. There are churches that have started very successful mentorship programs, pairing older and younger women together. I applaud them for doing this. Get your FREE Download by on Mentorship: Mentorship
Some of the opportunities to learn from others as a mentee will appear if we seek out others who are farther along in years or experience. With a lifelong learning attitude, (See: When Things Go Wrong) that mindset will keep us fresh in our perspective. Those who are at mid-career or the halftime of life (officially over the age of forty!), both men and women, have so much to give!
I feel our educational system has not fully prepared the upcoming generation with life and business skills. Even more than that, there are basic skills lacking related to common sense. Once you have had some experience working hard in a business, managing bills, paying taxes and even struggling through some of life’s issues, making yourself available to those who are recent high school or college graduates, or even in their late 20’s or 30’s will be a gift for the upcoming generation as they start expanding their businesses and families. We can’t just say, They’ll never listen! There are many opportunities around us and it may take just asking the simple question, How’s your day today? Then be quiet and just listen!
Naomi's Wise Words
-Be willing to come along side someone and make a connection with them.
-Invite someone into a conversation.
-See their need first—this is not about you.
-Hear what they’re not saying. In other words, listen!
-Even a spouse can be a mentor. Don’t discount them.
-Don’t wait to give. Reap the joy of giving while you are here!
There are constant opportunities around us to be a mentor or mentee if we just open our eyes and ears to see and listen.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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