Overcoming Obstacles and Reaping Rewards
Employing a Mentoring Mindset
Life is an obstacle course. You are constantly navigating and maneuvering through various challenges and roadblocks, overcoming each along the way. It can leave you feeling breathless and strained, but also confident and stronger with each new experience.
Some of my favorite obstacle courses are those that get you muddy, scratched, wet, and physically sore by the end. Sometimes I’m screaming (like when being chased by sprinting zombies in event-themed mudders.) Other times I’m laughing hysterically, watching a teammate accidentally get “electrocuted” running through an obstacle. (That teammate was my brother-in-law, and it was hilarious. We had to run through a dark shed and we had already gotten soaked during another obstacle. There were live wires hanging from the ceiling, and he said that if you held on to them with both hands the surge would just go through you, and you wouldn’t get electrocuted. He was wrong.)
But I digress. Life is like an obstacle course because while you are moving through these challenges, you do so with other people. Some are teammates, and others are fellow participants you meet along the way. While you’re moving through these obstacles, you can do it by yourself or alongside others. Going through WITH other people not only helps YOU maneuver through the twists and turns but allows you to assist THEM as well.
Everyone has strengths. My strengths include endurance and fearlessness as I run into new zones of terror. The people I run with have their own unique skillsets. Some are physically strong, so they can reach the top and help pull people over when climbing high walls. Others are very clever and can examine obstacles and figure out the best way to get through (or over or under) them. Bottom line: we work together, urge each other on, and lift each other up along the way. And when we reach the end, we grab our awesome swag, enjoy a nice cool beverage, and revel in our accomplishments.
What does this have to do with mentoring? It’s all about perspective.
In the microcosm of an obstacle course, I used my team members as “mentors” in various challenges. In some instances, people sought me for guidance and advice (in a hurry sometimes, because contrary to popular belief, some zombies sprint more than they stagger.)
So, in the obstacle course that is your career, you will come across seasoned colleagues that can help you maneuver through your journey. A mentor may share with you information about their own career path, and provide advice, inspiration, and emotional support. A mentor may also help you explore opportunities, set goals, network, and find resources.
Mentor relationships aren’t only important in the early stages of professional development. Most people can continually benefit from mentoring at all levels of their careers. And mentors come in all ages, genders, education levels, and fields of business.
One of the most essential perks of a mentoring relationship is that it’s reciprocal. One person might be reaching to lift you up as you go over a steep incline, and you are ready to catch that same person as they’re jumping down. It’s all about balance. The person who helps with your professional development in one season of your life may also need your advice. So be prepared to walk that two-way street.
Dream, dare, and do great with mentors. I’ve been blessed in my career to have relationships with brilliant mentors and be a mentor as well.
The gifts we’ve been blessed with can help lift each other up. We need people to tell us we are enough and remind us that we are amazing and talented. In mentoring relationships, we encourage each other to run. And if we fall, we encourage each other to crawl and get back up.
I have gained so much from observing and learning from mentors in my professional life. Each led by example, and let my creativity shine. They inspired and taught me to look at things from different perspectives. But, most importantly, they encouraged me to grab hold of those monkey bars, face the fire, and help lift me over the wall.
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