Taking an informal mentoring role in support of someone else is easy, and you can start in minutes. Plus you get the chance to help shape the direction of someone else’s path, and that is an exciting prospect. Today I’m going to talk about how you can do this in your own life to bring inspiration and guidance to someone else.
The first reason I always hear from others as to why they don’t think they can mentor anyone is that they aren’t “good enough” to be credible. Here’s the truth–based on your experiences, education, interests, and values, you have something to offer someone.
When I started out, I thought the same thing. Then I learned that we’re all working on a scale. Let’s use running for example (hey, I love it enough to write a book on it, I might as well use it here).
I have been running for years. While I am not an Olympic-level athlete, I have picked up a significant amount of practical experience and understand the do’s/don’ts.
Recently a friend asked if I would run with his nephew, a talented high school sophomore runner with little training experience under his belt. I knew it would be a fun experience, so I immediately accepted. In the past few weeks I’ve been running with him and teaching him some of the basics of training.
If we want to think of a 10-point scale, I might be a 7 in terms of experience. He falls more around a 2. While I am not at the pinnacle of the running world, I might as well be in his view.
In a similar vein, if a new runner joins the team this year, this young man is in a position to mentor that person based on what knowledge and experience he is accumulating daily. Someone starting out as a 1 would look at someone higher up (even at a level 2 on the scale) as someone with experience to offer.
I’ve also applied this approach in leading a Bible study for some friends. I’m not a scholar, but I have enough basic knowledge to pull insights from the material and share them with others by adding some context. On that scale I feel like a 3 or 4, but for anyone below that, they are hungry to hear what I can share. Likewise, I’m always listening to those that I feel are more knowledgeable so that I can improve my own understanding on a regular basis.
Think about any area of your life–spiritual, career, financial, physical, marital… Someone around you can use some support from you. Even if you’re “only” a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1 through 10, you have something to offer.
The final piece of advice is important: people have to be open to receiving your input. If you are trying to dump advice on people who are not interested in listening, then you’re wasting your time and theirs, and you’re harming any future relationship with that person. If you offer something, wait to see how they respond. If they’re welcoming of the input and seem open to more, then keep it coming.
We can all make the world a better place through small actions like these. It doesn’t take a huge revolutionary shift–many small ones will do the trick just the same.
Who are you going to influence today?