Starting something new–a business, a career, an adventure–or taking a step in a different direction requires some sort of guidance. Although our parents, friends, or teachers cannot hold our hand forever, we can find someone to guide us. Someone who has been where we are and who can give us hope regarding everything we have yet to accomplish. That someone can be a mentor and having one is extremely important.
What is a Mentor?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a mentor as “a trusted counselor or guide; tutor, coach.” A mentor is guidance personified. They are a person who understands the journey you are on and can help you navigate uncharted waters. It is someone you can relate to because you see yourself reflected in them and you see the future you want for yourself.
According to Inc. there are 10 reasons why a mentor is a must:
- Because they provide information and knowledge.
- Because they see where we need to improve where we often cannot.
- Because they find ways to stimulate our personal and professional growth.
- Because they offer encouragement and help keep us going.
- Because they create necessary boundaries that we cannot set for ourselves.
- Because they are a sounding board so we can bounce ideas off them for unfiltered opinion.
- Because they are trusted advisers.
- Because they can be connectors.
- Because they have experiences you can learn from to prevent making the same mistakes.
- Because they are priceless in more ways than one.
Although all of these reasons are true, not one mentor is like the other. What they do for you and how you connect with them will vary according to how you have met them or come in contact with them. That is the magic of mentorship: there isn’t a rulebook or a written guide; we each create our own.
Seeking out a mentor can be tricky and different types of mentorships can be created. It can be someone you work with who takes you under their wing and teaches you the ropes. Or a teacher who guides you through your academic years and helps you land the job of your dreams. Realistically, it can be anyone you know who is in a position to guide you through life–whether it be personal or professional.
Chadwick Boseman: A Generation of Black Kids’ Mentor
There are no rules set in stone as to who your mentor should be or how you should connect with them. In the era of technology where the entertainment business is booming, many turn to celebrities to find a mentor figure. We look for someone who looks like us, whose background is similar to ours, or who can open a world of opportunity for someone like us.
Children are constantly looking for a figure who reflects who they are. This is how Chadwick Boseman–may he rest in peace–became a mentor for a generation of black kids. They saw a superhero who looked like them and told them they existed, they mattered. He became their guidance in a life that does not usually give them a positive representation. But there was Black Panther telling them they should not be ashamed of who they are.
A mentor does not necessarily have to personally know you to be your guide. You can see who they are, what they do, what they stand for, and use that to grow in different aspects of your life. By seeing Boseman as Black Panther, kids saw their lives were important and they too could be heroes. Because at the end of the day a mentor is someone who inspires you to overcome your challenges and become a better version of yourself.
The Importance of Having a Mentor
Having a mentor is extremely important because this person will always push you to better yourself. Whether you know them personally or admire them from afar, the figure of a mentor is that of someone who represents what you can become. A good idea would be to take a look at your life to find that one person who can guide you in your journey towards becoming the best you possible.