February 19th, 2010
By Patricia Morgan © 2010
“You can do it and here is how.” Those words came from Mrs. Drake, my University of Toronto program coordinator, over forty years ago. She continues to track my career from her retirement home. Mentors are the trail blazers for those of us who follow. It may be a gentle path or one filled with risk-taking and fierce challenges. Sometimes we need our mentor to firmly grip our hand and at other times we only need an occasional nod of encouragement.
It is natural to feel uncertain, perhaps even downright scared, when beginning a new job or career path with many unknowns. A mentor typically is a step or more ahead of your aspirations, providing wise guidance, instruction and support. Unlike friendships, a mentor does not function as an equal or peer. Your mentor might have been arranged through a formal program or of your own choosing.
An example of a formal mentorship program is the Lilith Law Professional Development and Mentoring Program in Western Canada. It was developed to encourage and support female lawyers. The legal field is notorious for its demands of long hours and demanding clients, while providing little breathing space for raising children and other family needs. The founder of the mentorship program, Ronnalee McMahon was quoted in the Calgary Herald as saying, “This is just about building confidence and resiliency.” Mentors and protégés are matched. Here is a protégé quotation from the Lilith Law website, “I have been wrestling with confusion and conflict as a female lawyer and a married woman who would like to have children. I’ve gained clarity and been able to see this more as a challenge rather than a barrier. It’s exciting.” In a formal situation, mentor and protégé agree to the relationship and in all probability will agree to goals with timelines.
Mentorship can also be informal. You might choose not to tell your mentor that you emulate him or her or you might say something like, “I enjoy learning from you.” Informal mentorship relationships are more casual, spontaneous and seldom have structure, stated goals or role expectations.
Patricia Fripp is a professional speaking coach and the first woman president of the National Speakers Association. Whenever I attended the NSA conventions I attended her sessions. When she came to Montreal, Canada to lead four days of training, I signed on. I and six others spent two days being Fripperized–received one on one coaching in front of the small group. Just a few months ago I drove three hours to attend an evening seminar to again learn from her. Fripp has endorsed my speaking and remembers me. I consider her one of my mentors. Yes, you can have more than one.
Decide what is best for your situation. Depending on your relationship, you might choose your aunt, manager or career leader. Look for someone who is available, listens, has the knowledge and skills you want to acquire, has an interest in your success and is willing to give you both encouraging and room-for-improvement feedback. One day, be open yourself to lending a hand.
Patricia Morgan is a speaker, workshop leader and author of From Woe to WOW: How Resilient Women Succeed at Work (http://www.FromWoeToWOW.org)
Contact her to help your people become stress hardy at 403-242-7796, patricia@SolutionsForResilience.com or http://www.SolutionsForResilience.com
EmbracingMyJourney L.L.C. was created by Caryn FitzGerald in 2008.
Caryn, known as "The Manifesting Queen" is a motivational columnist, speaker and writer, she has been featured in and published several books, including "Tulips In The Sand" "Fish Sticks, Books and Blue Jeans" “Manifest Success” “Visual Arts Junction Interviews” & “Online Marketing Success Stories..."
Caryn is a domestic violence survivor who has triumphed over a 10-year battle with anorexia and bulimia. She is a wife, mother, healthy-aging-specialist, writer, speaker, blogger, coach and a health food enthusiast Click to connect with Caryn at her website
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