If you manage to find the right person, then you will know the value a mentor can give you and your enterprise as you start up, scale and grow. Not all of us are lucky to find such a person; however instead of a direct mentor, there are some other alternatives I have found that have been of huge support for me in a mentoring capacity.
But first off why is mentoring important? For me it’s simple, it has helped keep me sane. When I was starting out I had all these big ideas which were disjoined and I struggled to have focus. Mentoring helped me achieve this, it gave me the steer I need to focus in on the core idea, solidify that and develop out from there. As I mentioned in my last post, starting and growing has its ups and downs. The ups can be exciting, euphoric and make every challenge seem worthwhile. But – and it’s a big but – the downs can be crushing, with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, sleepless nights and constant worry. Mentoring in its different forms can be key in those times. Mentoring can help you realise that the challenges you are facing are not unique, you are not alone and there is a route forward.
So if you haven’t been lucky enough to find a great individual mentor, what can you do? For me, peer-to-peer mentoring has been the solution. When you surround yourself with a group of like-minded people who are on a similar journey to you, it creates a support network you can rely on. So what do you need to keep in mind when looking for a peer-mentoring group?
You need to be willing to put yourself out there. It can feel a little like an intervention, but if you have a good group, it is a safe space. By opening yourself up to helpful advice from peers you will get a huge amount out of it.
Maybe ‘be present’ would be better. Don’t just turn up and participate when you want help. Regularly attending group meetups will not only help you get to know people there, but it will make it a more enjoyable experience when you need to turn to them for support or advice.
This follows on from the previous point – you must be willing to give support and not just use the group. Sharing your own journey when people are going through a tough spot or facing a difficult decision can help them to see different viewpoints and learn from your mistakes.
Something small to you is big to others
Something that is a big concern to one group member might seem like a small or basic concern to you. It’s crucial to never think like this and remember that we all have our own problems keeping us awake at night: empathy is key.
When you’ve received the help and advice you need, don’t just walk away. It’s important to remember the valuable support you were given by the group at your time in need, and you might still need their support in the future. You have a responsibility to those who were there for you.
For me peer mentoring has been invaluable. It takes time and commitment, but the effort you put in will be worth it over and over again. I have found lots of peers willing to support me, and who (I hope) I have supported through the different communities i have been enough to be apart of.