Do you have a mentor in your life? Of course, you do! You probably have many in all aspects. Some can influence a short portion or single event in your life and others stick with you forever.
Think about when you were a child? Your mom, dad, relatives, friends, teachers, coaches or lack thereof helped shaped your life to who you are now. These influences guided you, protected you, they tried to give you many skills to succeed in life. Or they made you question your very existence or how the world could be so cold. Good or bad these people played as a mentor to you.
Now think of the influence you may have on others, family or coworkers. Mentorship stays with us, feelings of comradery and personal connections and we think it is natural. Yet when a company talks about a mentoring programme most people will scoff at it and not give it a second thought.
Think about your work life, do you work 40 hours a week? 50? 100? We all have 168 hours in a week and no matter how we look at it, unless you are lucky enough to be financially free we spend a big chunk of that weekly time at work. When you look at your workspace where ever it is, think about your first day. How did you feel? Did you feel lost or timid because you didn’t really know the processes? Did you fake it and pretend you know everything? Or maybe you are really experienced and it just seemed like an average day?
I can talk about dozens (maybe hundreds if I try hard) of experiences I have had along my journey of life. Family looking out for me and trying to protect me from the negative aspects of our life’s (even if I could be a pain in the butt). The ones who taught me life skills and the ones who couldn’t be bothered. I think of my teachers who pushed me to excel and pushed through the adolescent attitude that oh so many of us had and the teachers who wouldn’t give me the time or effort and just wrote me off as a lost cause. I think of my sports coaches who gave me an outlet for stress, yet nurtured and built my leadership skills and challenged us. The military…well that could be a post for another day. Then I found a trade and worked in the oil & gas sector. Let me tell you it is a completely different experience from anything else.
I remember starting my Apprenticeship. I remember being miserable every day, as crew by crew all I experienced was poor attitudes and lack of engagement. Miserable attitudes spread like wildfire and can taint a group of workers and a full job in the blink of an eye. I was eager to grow and learn, but the only thing I was ever told is “you don’t get paid to think, do what I tell you and shut up”. Now, this can be called an old school mentality and people will pass it on because everyone thinks “I was taught this way, so I will teach this way”.
It wasn’t until I found a true mentor in my trade. This person approached me and asked me to join the company mentorship programme they had going on. My first reaction was just like every other person, No way! It easy to say this because that was the general attitude around the site. So it is always easier to blend in with the majority. This person didn’t accept that, he took me aside and explained to me that the programme may not be the best but in all reality, it is a good option to grow in the career. The concept was pretty straightforward, I would be paired with him and he will teach me all the skills that everyone else has failed to take the time to do. He told me he would make me successful at our career instead of just going through the motions like the majority of the industry. And with that little explanation feeding my ego I said yes. I can say it was the best thing I ever did. This mentor pushed me and challenged me in every aspect of the trade. When most people wouldn’t go the extra mile, this person did. Then in 1 month I was confident, in 3 months I was competent and in 4 months I had surpassed most people at my level. This then opened my eyes to the way industry works, you could see who true mentors were in their own right. The ones ready to share and teach. The complete opposite of the negative attitude I first encountered when I started. I then only worked with the positive types I could learn from and my career advanced far greater than I ever imagined it would. I took bits from every mentor I had, then when I had the opportunity I shared everything I ever learned to those coming up in their careers. I figured the more I taught the people I worked with the more confident and competent they become, the better we all grew as a whole.
Now I could go on, but the bottom line is this, mentorship, training, positive guidance in a workplace is an underutilized tool in many workforces. If you are an owner of a company or a supervisor look at your work. Do you have these tools? If so do you utilize them? Or maybe this is an area where you can improve. Either way, it is something to be considered. It can make your work culture strong, improve efficiency and improve morale. You can apply this outside of work as well if you see someone struggling take a step out of your comfort zone and help others. Everyone needs a mentor, even those doing the mentoring. Make sure you surround yourself in life with those who will push you to better yourself in all aspects of it.