There are mothers and sisters and good friends and teachers. And then, there are mentors…
Along the curves and bumps in my life journey, I have been fortunate to have mentors to steer me in the right direction, to get me back on track and to cheer me on at the finish line. Most of them have been women — inspirational, wise and strong women.
They have appeared in my life like a blessing, just at the right time and with purpose. I have met them in college, in graduate school, at work, online, in my community and within my family. They have served as powerful role models, anchors, life coaches, motivators and firm reminders of who I am and what I can become.
Mentor as wise advisers
Traditionally, a mentor is known as a wise and trusted adviser, teacher or friend, who is usually a more experienced person than the mentee in a particular community or role. Mentoring relationships normally exist in corporate environments and in higher education settings, where mentors help individuals advance in their careers, enhance their education, and build networks.
Mentors in the business of life
I propose we broaden the concept of mentorship to include the invaluable role that women serve to each other, as powerful sources of inspiration, guidance, support and encouragement.
Undeniably, men can be great mentors too, but it is the commonality of womanhood that makes women true life mentors. Consider the friend(s) you called upon as a new mother full of questions and doubts. Or the women you reached out to when life was unkind. Think about your go-to person when you need inspiration to balance it all and continue to move forward. And what about the wise women you look up to because they’ve been there and done that — successfully and confidently? These women, I say, are life mentors.
Are you a life mentor to someone else?
You may not be aware of it, but you also have the opportunity to be a life mentor to someone else! Consider the following common characteristics of life mentors and how they might describe you as well:
- They have experienced and conquered challenging moments in their lives, which have made them a wiser person
- They readily use their own personal experiences to instill hope and share life strategies
- They are resilient, positive and open-minded
- They enjoy empowering others and bringing out their best
- They are supportive and are able to put aside their interest, for the sake of others in need of help and guidance
Why do we need women as mentors?
Women today are busier than ever. As working parents, we work long hours or hold multiple jobs. As stay-at-home moms, we take care of active and busy children while managing our homes and sometimes even working from home. We are creating new possibilities, starting or running businesses and pursuing our dreams.
Today, we need each other more than ever. Traditional support systems, such as extended family members, are less available to provide support due to their own busy schedules or distant living. So in these modern times, we need our small community of women mentors, to embrace us and empower us.
Where to seek life mentors
By now, you might be wondering how you can sign up for one of these! The truth is, life mentors are all around us. We may not see them in this way, as potential life mentors, but they are among our social circle. Here are a few places to begin your search:
- among close, supportive friends
- among co-worker or colleagues
- extended family members
- people in your community (women’s groups, places of worship, other parents at school)
- former or current teachers and professors
- professional life coaches and counselors
- mentoring network websites (Mommy Mentors, HerFuture, Mentor)
You can also form your own group of life mentors interested in mutually mentoring each other. You can hold monthly meetings or do so completely virtually (online).
If there is someone in your life that could serve as a life mentor, try to connect to her, and don’t hesitate to ask for guidance. You will know you have connected when you find yourself feeling good about yourself and feeling deep admiration and trust for this person after a meaningful conversation.
It might take a village to raise a child, but it certainly takes a small community of life mentors to help women transform and reach their full God-given potential in life.
Do you have women in your life who you consider mentors? Have you mentored others?