When I think about mentoring, there are a number of women whose faces pop into my mind – both in my present life and in the distant past.

The first mentor I ever had was my mother. Sure, she was my mother, but she also helped me get my first real job with paid vacation and benefits. I actually worked with her and I learned so much by watching her, talking to her, and building relationships with many of the other women that we worked with.

I jokingly called the group of ladies we regularly had lunch with my ten moms, but they were all so supportive of me. I wouldn’t call all of them mentors, but they were all very good at mentoring.

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” ~Bob Proctor

The mentors I am most grateful to are the ones who have challenged me to do things I wouldn’t have tried on my own. They encouraged me to go after opportunities I might have shied away from.

They told me over and over I could do the things I wanted because I am capable, even in those times when I’m not quite convinced myself.

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” ~ John Crosby

What is a mentor?

A mentor is a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. It doesn’t have to be a formal relationship and I’m a big fan of mentor/mentee relationships that develop naturally; however, mentorship programs are incredibly valuable.

Those first few years I worked, I wouldn’t have said I had a mentor (other than my mom) but I was around a lot of women who let me ask them questions, listened to what I had to say and helped me make better decisions. I still wouldn’t say they were mentors, but that’s exactly what they would have been if I hadn’t moved away.

“In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.” ~ Maya Angelou

The best mentors care about how the people they mentor evolve. They care because they want what’s best for them, not because they want something from them.

“Colleagues are a wonderful thing – but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done.” ~ Junot Diaz

Whether you’ve been a mentor or helped by a mentor, I know you can see how valuable the empowerment and support is when you have someone in your life that pushes you to be the best version of yourself you can be.

People who take to mentoring change the world for the people they support.

Karen C. Wilson, WBN President
WBN President, 2016-17
Senior Content Writer & Editor at Halogen Software