Being a part of the growth of an individual, both personally and professionally, can be summed up as both humbling and gratifying. It’s humbling when you see a peer or loved one take that step towards growth, and watch the light bulb go off. Until you’ve mentored and helped someone grow, you don’t fully grasp how meaningful it is to do so. Gratification comes much later in the process; it’s after monumental hurdles, epic fails, foot-in-mouth statements, and frustrating moments. It happens when doubt turns to confidence, frustration becomes satisfaction, and failure is followed by achievement. It’s at this moment that a mentee sees the true value of a mentor who believes in them.
Is theCorey practicing the restaurant version of "Wax On, Wax Off"
re a Karate Kid without Mr. Miyagi or Luke Skywalker without Obi Wan? Most likely not! While fictional, these characters are the archetype for Mentors with genuine foresight and belief in their mentees' capabilities with the proper support. Mentors have the understanding of what buttons to push and when to push them. They understand there are times when a mentee might not enjoy these moments, but they persist knowing the long term impact these moments will have. Mentors can see the DNA of their students and can see far enough into the future to realize the greatness they have within them. Patience is a virtue at this point.
"Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." – Robert Louis Stevenson
Experience allows us to reflect and look back on where we were in the past, who we latched on to, and what mentor impacted us enough to change our career or life trajectory. On a personal level, the mentors in my life have all played different roles yet, still having a major impact on my growth.
There was the mentor that gave me my first opportunity, saw the potential many others didn’t and took a chance on me. I never quite understood why and felt like an imposter at first, but they guided me through the rocky terrain as if they knew I wasn’t ready. “Show up on time and be coachable” was the only rule.
Then there was the stern mentor that really guided my growth to learn processes, people, and to look at what I did professionally with a different perspective. This was the mentor that began setting the bar high for me that showed me “you run your fastest mile with a fast runner”. This individual really taught me that a mentor's job is not to make it easy for you and that “participation ribbons” are for those who can’t accept that greatness comes from hard work. If you want to win, you have to wake up early, and talent aside, NO ONE can outwork me.
Next was the mentor that leveled with me… There was no measuring words, and there was a strong sense of partnership to reach a common goal we both believed in. This is where I learned to use the “bullshit meter”. I was nervous to say the wrong thing and would focus on saying what they wanted me to say, rather than “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” for fear that I would look stupid. This mentor taught me that stupid people nod their heads in agreement when they don’t know or don’t agree.
Finally, there was the Anchor. The one who took momentum set by others and brought it to a new level. This is the mentor that guided me beyond feats that I personally couldn’t see myself doing. I was held accountable, taught to self learn and navigate through people and life. I was given the safety and support to balance work and life, but still accelerating my career. I realized that as long as I used my “moral compass” that I would be protected if I fell. More importantly that the fall (or climb) was a necessary part of the journey. I was taught it was “ok to break the rules” and that value was proven to me again and again. As protected as I felt, I was forced to make hard decisions that I never imagined I’d be capable of back when my journey began. This mentor, who intimidated me at first, showed me that I could be anything I wanted to be as long as I used the company values to guide me.
"Treat a man as he could be and he will become what he should be " - Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It seems these types of mentors come along only so often, and few realize they have it. If you’re a mentee that finds themselves lucky enough to cross paths with a mentor like this and realize it, there’s nothing that will stop you, but you. I guess I was lucky to find this many mentors? Or was it that the mentors are always there if you choose to see them? Only when the student is ready to learn, will the teacher appear? One thing I know is, the world needs more mentors and coaches like the ones I’ve had in my life.
Allow yourself to be challenged as a mentee, and don’t fear failure. Understand that challenges are opportunities to learn, and the only reason they’re in front of you is that someone believes you’re capable of conquering that obstacle. Nothing good is ever easy, and nothing easy is ever good, so enjoy the process and what comes with it. Be willing to fall eight times and get up nine. You’ll know you’ve found a world-class mentor when they are more stubborn than you and refuse to give up on you until you give up on them. Most importantly, always remain coachable.
Mentors: There is always someone looking for that one opportunity and that one person to give them a chance to breakout. Good people are harder to find than someone who is skilled; skills can be taught. Find the good ones who want to be part of the process and are willing to fight for it. You might be surprised by how much both of you will grow! Studies have shown that mentorship is as professionally gratifying as it is personally
Corey receives culture values award from mentor, Josh Rossmeisl
I can humbly say that I am proof that mentees come in all shapes and sizes and won’t be the most obvious. I will also say that when you do take the time with them, they will be loyal and will never forget what you did for them. Perhaps most importantly, they will pay it forward and remember the importance of seeking out and mentoring those around them to help build their legacy, and enjoy the satisfaction and pride I hope I will be able to give to those who took their time with me.
I know I am not done growing and believe I can accomplish anything I choose to put my mind to. I will surround myself with great leaders and mentors as I know you become a product of who you spend the most time with. I will keep investing in books, blogs, and articles that help me learn and grow and promise not to stay in my comfort zone.
Mentors, I will make you proud. I will keep working hard to learn and grow. I will pay it forward. I will never, ever forget what you did for me.
It’s not who the person is today that’s important, but who they can be if you believe in them.