Understanding the Transformational Power of Mentoring

This January, be part of National Mentoring Month and make a difference.

Jan 10, 2021
Understanding the Transformational Power of Mentoring | This January, be part of National Mentoring Month and make a difference.

The first weeks of January are an ideal time to set New Year's resolutions for yourself, with a focus on growth and improvement during the upcoming year. January is also National Mentoring Month, offering a perfect opportunity for self-improvement and giving back in a community setting.

Mentoring is the practice of an older, more knowledgeable person teaching and guiding a younger, less experienced person. It can take many different forms, from a seasoned executive sharing industry knowledge and best practices to someone just starting out in their career, to a teenager helping a neighborhood kid with homework. 

Mentoring provides numerous benefits for mentees, but it is not just the recipients of the mentoring who benefit from the practice; the good goes both ways! People who act as mentors for others also receive a rich range of benefits.

Deepak Chopra, an alternative medicine advocate and author, explained in a video for Mentoring Month that the practice of mentoring can be boiled down to caring for others. “At one point in time, I have three, or four, or five people that I am acting as a mentor for,” he said. Chopra summarizes the importance of mentoring by saying, “If you want to be happy, then you have to make somebody else happy.”

Chopra is not the only celebrity who has sung the praises of mentorship. It might be hard to believe that Oprah Winfrey, the world’s first female self-made billionaire and a media trailblazer, did not grow up feeling that she was destined for greatness.

Winfrey has spoken at length about her difficult childhood and she credits much of her success to Mrs. Duncan, her fourth-grade teacher and mentor. “For the first time, I wasn't afraid to be smart, and she often stayed after school to work with me,” explained Winfrey on Oprah.

 

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Winfrey’s powerful example is backed up by a slew of studies which confirm that a mentor’s faith in the abilities of their mentee can make a huge positive impact.  A study published by the National Mentoring Partnership found that at-risk youth who are involved in a mentoring program are significantly more likely to enroll in college, to volunteer regularly in their communities, and to hold leadership positions than at-risk youth who do not have a mentor.

Mentoring has proven so successful in the business world, some 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a mentoring program, according to Forbes. In fact, a study from Wharton at Sun Microsystems found that both mentees and mentors benefit from such programs in many ways including receiving raises, career advancement, and retaining more information.

Mentoring another person is also a powerful way to pay it forward and strengthen your community, be it within a neighborhood or the workplace. No matter which specific skills an individual mentor brings to the table, the central concept is simply being there for someone else. If you are looking to make a positive contribution this year, the nonprofit Mentoring connects people with life-changing mentoring opportunities.

Being a mentor means making a positive difference in the journey of another person. Whether you mentor someone else or seek out a mentor, the good deeds can last a lifetime, and there is no better time to start than now.

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LAUREN MARCUS, CONTRIBUTOR
Fascinated by storytelling since childhood, Lauren is passionate about the written word. She’s a freelance writer who has covered everything from the latest developments in tech to geopolitics. When she’s not writing, Lauren is interested in genealogical research and family folklore.