Guest Post by: Tumi Frazier, founder of Tumi Frazier International
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants”
- Sir Isaac Newton, physicist and mathematician
Many of us can identify at least one individual who made a significant and positive impact on our lives. Some of these people include teachers, parents, relatives and other community members who motivated or challenged us to go much further than we ever believed we could, simply because they believed in our potential. This can be regarded as mentoring, as these individuals gave the necessary guidance, support and acted as sounding boards in our lives.
Mentoring offers the mentor an extraordinary opportunity to facilitate a mentee’s professional, business and personal growth by sharing knowledge and experience. The mentor does not necessarily have to be older or possess extensive years of experience. In some cases mentors may be younger, but have specific expertise or a new set of skills that can be transferred to others.
Launching a new business or growing a business can be daunting - it is therefore critical to enlist the support of seasoned entrepreneurs as mentors to help you navigate through the myriad of business challenges that arise.
Business mentors can help structure your business effectively, give advice on important strategic partners, transfer critical business skills and offer different perspectives on important issues or challenges. Business mentors can also stretch you out of your comfort zone, open doors to their networks, and most importantly give you the opportunity to learn from their successes and mistakes.
Importantly, mentors do not have to be experienced in your particular field, as their role is to share insight from their own personal business experience.
As a mentor on a South African reality TV programme that showcases young entrepreneurs in various communities across the country, I receive emails almost every day from young aspiring entrepreneurs requesting to be mentored. Given the nature of the requests, it has become evident to me that there are many misconceptions about what mentoring is really about.
Here are a 5 things to remember about mentorship
- Mentors are not magic cards; what you do with the advice you receive from them is what brings results. As a mentee, you are the person that is ultimately responsible and accountable for achieving your own goals.
- Mentors are not there to provide the answers, but instead to guide you towards finding answers that are suitable for you. Ultimately, it is not about the answers provided, but the questions posed. The idea is to equip you with long lasting competencies that you can apply to different settings in order to solve your own challenges in the future.
- When seeking advice from a mentor you need to at least have attempted to resolve the situation by yourself first. Your mentor is not there to do your work for you - instead, show him/her what you have done already to find a solution.
- “I don’t know” is an answer I don’t accept as a mentor. Do some research, make a list of possible solutions, rewards and consequences related to each solution until you come to the right one, and then we can discuss how to best move forward.
- While I strongly believe in empowerment, knowledge transfer and constant learning through different modalities (mentorship being one of them), I do not believe in creating long term dependency. At some point as a mentee you need to be “weaned off” so you can grow independently, and pass your mentorship forward so that someone else can benefit in the future.
I once heard someone describe herself as a “mentee at heart” - while this may mean the person is always willing and eager to learn, it also sounds like a perpetual condition. So, my advice is to always ensure you put the advice given by your personal mentors into action; and also be willing to receive and give constructive criticism - that is the power of mentorship!
Tumi Frazier is a South African entrepreneur, professional speaker, author, TV personality, consultant, and founder of Tumi Frazier International, Tumi Leadership Academy, and Tumi Foundation. Tumi is an internationally acclaimed Leadership and Change Management expert who has worked with high profile clients and organizations across Africa, United States and Europe. Tumi has authored 4 books: Courageous Stories of Inspiration; In the Midst of the Storm; Stepping Stones to Success; and Your Moment. Follow Tumi Twitter | LinkedIn