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The Mentor Relationship: Oh, The Things That You'll Learn!

Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser. Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. Proverbs 9:9

Did you ever wish you had your own personal advisor who you could learn from on a regular basis?

Well, you can, and you should.

There are people we should have in our lives who can "serve as a trusted counselor or teacher." The dictionary defines these wise people as mentors.

Through their knowledge, expertise, or life experiences they have the ability to guide us toward a course we might not have considered. They can teach us lessons that enrich our lives, so that we may benefit from their acumen and propel us forward. They can advice us about things they wished they'd known when they were younger. A mentorship relationship can develop us in our career and professional endeavors, give us spiritual guidance, provide marriage advice, or parental instruction.

These role models are typically someone older than us whom we can ask, "What do you wish you knew at my age or stage in life."

When I decided to go back to school and complete my education, I interviewed several people in various careers and industry areas that gave me guidance and encouraged me to think about my future, my goals and dreams, and where I wanted to be in my career path.

Having a mentor opens up new doors of exploration that can assist us in navigating the areas of our lives that our mentors have already explored to get to where they are today. For instance, you might ask career questions, such as:

  1. If you were just starting out in your career, what advice would you give yourself looking back that you wish you would have known then? Are there things you wish you would have done differently? Are you happy where you are now and why or why not?

  2. How did you learn to embrace taking risks and not staying comfortable or knowing the right time to move to the next level in your career?

  3. Are there things I can do today or people I should connect with to help launch my career forward?

  4. Where do you see my strengths and how can I contribute my strengths to improve my leadership presence?

  5. Can you recommend any books or resources that would be useful tools toward my professional career development?

As a premarital counselor and marriage coach, some of the questions I have asked couples include:

  1. What do you most need in your relationship to make you feel loved?

  2. What kind of social support do you have? Who will be the one scheduling social events?

  3. How will you resolve conflict? Do you know your communication styles?

  4. What kind of practical action steps can you start today to be in a good place with your financial goals?

  5. What are the strengths that you each bring into the relationship and how can you use them to help you have a healthy, thriving marriage?

These are just a few examples of what you can experience in a mentor - mentee relationship. However, I also believe that there is so much we can learn from a younger mentor who has a certain area of expertise, if we are open to it. Someone younger than us can keep us current and thinking outside the box. They may have new ways of doing things that we may not have known or considered. Someone just out of college, for instance, will have the most current skills and can bring expertise from his or her current studies and internship experiences. Is there someone in your life who is younger than you that has a certain area of expertise whom you can benefit from?

I was blessed to work at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) for thirteen years. In that time, I built relationships with students who had so much passion for life, for learning, for growing. Some of the things I learned that helped me to grow and stay humble as well, for instance, were:

  1. Saying I love you to a friend is beautiful!

  2. Being the first to hug or say I am sorry is how we show grace.

  3. There is more than one way to do something and get the same or have better results.

What are the questions you are burning to ask about your educational goals, career dreams, marriage and family, or your relationship with God? Who are the people that are ten or twenty years older or younger than you that can make a difference in your life and help you find the answers you seek? Is there an area in your life you feel stuck or you feel you aren't growing?

When I worked in Career Services at PLNU our team consisted of various backgrounds, expertise, and ages. All of this, in conjunction with our strengths, helped us in our business strategies. As a team we were able to provide context, fresh design ideas, tradition, and new ways of doing things, looking back and looking forward. A team should consist of a diverse group to help us grow professionally and personally, as well as meet the goals of the organization.

Working in Career Services also gave me the advantage of meeting various students and professionals in their areas of interest. I had the opportunity to ask students why they chose a particular area of study, about their dreams and passions, and where they saw themselves headed in their future careers. I also received advice from professionals who would say things, such as: If I could go back to college I would have taken advantage of or I would have spent more time doing this. I would ask them why they believe in what they do or why they were excited about getting up each day to do what they do?

I find the stories behind the mystery are the spice of the mentor relationships we build. It's not so much "getting" the answer, as it is the journey they took and the lessons they learned along the way that led them to where they are now. Will this be the same journey you will embark on or will your journey take you on a road less traveled?

If you don't have mentors in your life that are older and wiser or younger and filled with new ideas, consider entering into a mentor - mentee relationship today to help you begin your educational journey, launch your career, or to ask the questions that might help you have a better marriage, family, and life.

Who are the mentors you currently have that can speak wisdom into your life?

Are there couples in your life that have great marriages that inspire you and give you hope that you can also have a great marriage?

Are you feeling stuck or wondering how to get to the next level in your career?

Find a mentor and begin that relationship today, for we must always be willing to learn from each other and have a forward thinking mindset that benefits others, as well as ourselves. I'm excited for you and "the places you'll go!" Dr. Seuss


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