How mentoring has reciprocal benefits and adds value to the mentor’s wellbeing.
By Lora Hayes, Executive Director TeamMates of Sioux Falls Mentoring
January brings a fresh start. A time to examine our lives, shift our priorities, and begin again. January also happens to be National Mentoring month. As we embark on a new year, let’s consider how investing in a mentoring relationship can positively impact your life.
Redirect – Mentors experience reduction in stress and anxiety
“Lincoln began to emerge from his funk by helping a coworker who looked up to him out of a funk of his own.” ~ Richard Brookhiser, Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln
We’ve all been there… wrapped up in swirling thoughts about everything going wrong in our lives. I was living one of those moments, sitting in my corporate cubical, staring at computer while contemplating my recent choices and asking “WHY” this series of events continued to appear in my life. Right in the middle of a self-inflicted pity party, an email from my mentee popped up, subject line – “I need to talk”. It was just what I needed to break focus from my current spiral. What happened? What lead her to reach out? All I know is that she needed me. That moment, the spiral began to fade.
The act of mentoring allows the mentor to redirect focus from our own stressor by focusing on engaging with their mentee. According to a study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, “The mentoring of junior colleagues can reduce anxiety and improve the mental health of the mentors…”. This study proves that during mentoring, the mentors begin to normalize their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors by listening, sharing ideas, and supporting their mentor (do you mean mentee?). The data shows that when mentors share their own experiences it reduces personal anxieties and stress.
Rejuvenate – Mentors experience an increase in happiness
“My relationship with my mentee has brought me so much joy! I have learned so much about compassion and perseverance from this young lady, along with some sweet dance moves…”. – Stephanie, Mentor with DC Mentoring
Before I began mentoring, I remember thinking, who has time for that? Isn’t that for retired people who have the time and no longer have kids at home? After some very positive peer pressure, I gave it a try. It’s been three years now and it’s turned out to be one of the single best decisions of my life. Although not every meeting with my mentee is roses and daisies, I find myself looking forward to seeing her. Connecting with her, as a mentor, has become a consistent source of happiness in my life.
Over the years, I have come to realize that the power of mentoring comes from both individuals honoring their relationship by voluntarily making time for one another, not because they have to but because they consistently chose to. According to an article in The Harvard Crimson, “While there are many reasons to volunteer, evidence from recent research suggests that volunteering actually causes higher, sustained happiness levels in individuals, even when controlling for other factors.” With so many options for volunteering, mentoring is a powerful and impactful way to increase your own happiness and invest in in the life of another at work or in your community.
Reflect – Mentors gain wisdom and confidence through reflection
“Regardless of our titles or years of experience, we can learn from each other. Through mentoring and by being open to learn where we can reach our ultimate potential.” –Lily Benjamin
My mentee was experiencing a proverbial fork in the road. Which path would she chose? Both paths had pros and cons and no clear “right or wrong” answer. As I listened, her story became all too familiar; some years ago, I too faced a dilemma with eerily similar details. Now being able to look at the situation through the lens of reflection, I was able to ask her the questions I wished I had been asked, provide her strategies for decision making, and remind her that I would be there to support her no matter what path she chose. As I drove home and recapped my day, I realized our conversation allowed me to reflect on my experience and revealed how much I have grown. Over time, the reflective and sharing process associated with mentoring increased my level of confidence.
As a mentor, feeling that what you have gone through and learned from has helped someone learn and grow themselves is bound enhance the way you see and feel about yourself. A recent study published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, measured how leaders viewed themselves if they mentored versus those that did not mentor, “Participants in the mentor group experienced a more positive change in leader identity and leader self-efficacy, compared to the participants in the non-mentor group. Through mentoring, we are gifted the experience of reflecting on our past, gaining wisdom, and increasing our confidence all while giving another human the gift of our presence and hope.
This January, as you are reflecting and refocusing on your health and wellness, do yourself and someone else a favor…mentor! TeamMates Mentoring of Sioux Falls is currently looking for mentors. TeamMates is a school-based, one-to-one mentoring program co-founded by Dr. Tom and Nancy Osborne. The focus of the mentoring relationship is for an adult volunteer to help build a positive relationship with a student and help them reach their full potential. To learn more about the new TeamMates of Sioux Falls mentoring program visit our website at SiouxFallsTeamMates.org. To find an adult mentor organization, visit Sioux52.org.