Mentorship: the missing wellbeing link in your work and personal life
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”
- Bob Proctor
Dating back to greek era, the term “mentorship” was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus, a great warrior in Greek mythology, left for Trojan war and entrusted his friend Mentor for the guidance of his son Telemachus.
Where once mentorship was a much more delicate thing to ask, today mentorship's increasing popularity means it’s easier than ever to add this incredible tool to your life. A mentor in your life means a constant accountability partner to help you enhance your confidence and challenge you to set higher goals. Someone to help guide you to take intelligent risks and achieve at higher levels will also provide you with psychosocial support, which will benefit your health.
A study completed last year for the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine explored, identified and mapped out the relationships between mentoring activities and its ability to positively affect your health and wellbeing.
Researchers explored publications written by doctors about mentorship as manifestation of their engagement in such activities and used the The Business in the Community model as a theoretical framework to analyse their papers.
Does Mentorship actually make you healthier?
Results showed that mentoring positively influenced the relationships of doctors with their colleagues and their own personal wellbeing. A mentorship relationship helped increase confidence, improve stress management and was highly valued as a support mechanisms by these doctors.
How to get the best mentor for you
If working with a mentor sounds like something that would in fact help you achieve higher levels of health and wellbeing, alongside increasing your ability to meet your goals, here are 5 helpful tips to build a successful mentoring relationship.
1. Research and Network.
Finding a mentor means first using all the tools in the toolbox to get connected. Search the Internet, read publications in your industry, attend events focused on a topic that’s important in your leadership journey, call entrepreneurs, friends, and approach others in your profession for suggestions about who to get in contact with. Look for people with well-rounded experience that would be helpful in tackling your goal.
2. Be clear about what you want.
Make a list of the very specific reasons why you’d like them to mentor you. A specific ideas and challenges in mind for which you need their help with. Make sure to explain the potential opportunity there is for you and them to seize in this relationship. Be brief, but be confident, too. Be reasonable about your expectations. A mentor will probably not have hours each week to help you, but a short phone call each month would be agreeable.
3. Get comfortable at asking.
You must begin by expecting that most will not have the time to mentor you. Make a list of a number of people you would like to have as a mentor. Of course, the relationship is likely to be more successful if you know the person beforehand, to make sure you can interact productively together. Keep asking until you get a positive response.
4. Treat advice like gold, and act on it.
No one likes to have their time wasted. When you seek your mentor’s advice, follow it. Study their methods, ask your questions, make sure you understand the process, and then do your best to duplicate it. Listen in between the lines and scrutinise how they would likely act in challenging situations.
5. Return the favour.
Look for ways to give back to your mentor. Everyone can add value to another. Keep them in the loop of projects you are working on and introduce them to others in your network that could help them too.
Wilson, Gemma, et al. "Exploring the relationship between mentoring and doctors’ health and wellbeing: a narrative review." Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 110.5 (2017): 188-197.