It's funny how fast time flies by. It seems that I haven't talked about the subject of mentoring since 2006, and in actuality it was 2005 when I wrote my original article on the subject; ouch! I figure it's time to bring it up again, only 8 years late. lol

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Why talk about mentoring? Because it seems lately that there are a lot of people just floundering on their own without some kind of support system. This happens in all areas of life, including work. Sure, we might get some kind of direction or leadership here and there, but mentoring is so much more than that.

A mentor is someone you can talk to whenever you need advice. It might be relationship advice or business advice but it's always more personal than economical; this excludes your financial advisor.

For instance, say you're having a problem with your significant other. A mentor might listen to you complain about your problem or be there to console you. But a mentor will mainly guide you towards decisions you need to think about taking rather than just take your side on the matter. If you've made bad decisions and your mentor knows it, the mentor will tell you about those bad decisions. This isn't criticism though; mentors will never beat you down when you're at your lowest point. One always feels uplifted after talking to a mentor; that's what they're best at.

The same goes for business. Mentors, if they have a business savvy, will listen to your ruminations and offer support and guidance. They won't condemn anything you've done and make you feel bad; that's not helpful to anyone. They'll try to see if there were any flaws in what you did, and if not they'll offer you support and assurance.

Personally I wish I could find a mentor like that now. I do have someone who I can call, who I mentioned in that last post I linked to above, but he's going through some of his own business ventures and I don't want to take away his valuable time. I've been a mentor to many people myself; I always say that if there's something you want that you have to be willing to do give it to someone else.

Of course there are limits to mentoring. There's a difference between mentoring and coaching. You don't pay mentors, thus you don't get access to them every day or even a few times a month unless they decide that's how they wish to interact with you. Mentors are busy doing their own thing after all. With a mentor sometimes all it takes is 5 minutes to set you on the straight and narrow, but that's after you've known each other for some time.

I've always believed more large companies should have both mentoring plans and succession plans; I know of few that have either. It's something to think about, even for small businesses or directors and managers within a large company. Is this something you've thought about? Could you see the benefit in it to yourself or to others?