Homer’s 8th century BC epic poem The Odyssey introduced a man named Mentor.
So he [Telemachus] spoke and sat down; next Mentor rose to speak, a comrade-in-arms of noble Odysseus. To him the king had committed his entire household, when he sailed off to Troy; he had ordered everyone to obey the old man, trusting that he would keep all things steadfast and undisturbed.
This is where the term mentorship came from. As the story goes, while Odysseus went off to war, he left Mentor to look after his commitments and more importantly, the upbringing of his son, Telemachus. Over the years, the idea of a mentor has not deviated much from its namesake. A mentor in today’s world is still someone that dispels advice from a real world point of view, someone that provides a wealth of knowledge and more importantly, experience.
Some believe mentorship is some altruistic donation from one individual to another. That is not the case. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s about the sharing of information to mutually benefit both individuals. Both the mentor and protégé should benefit. And let’s not assume a mentor is only relevant for those just starting out. Every successful business person, athlete, blue collar worker, etc., can benefit from a mentor at any point in their career. Since we are always learning and evolving, there is never a bad time to look for a mentor.
How do you find a mentor? A good start is to examine your existing connections within your chosen industry. Amateur baseball players will seek out scouts to help identify areas of weakness in their swing or pitching motions. Newly starting entrepreneurs may seek the guidance of past business associates that made the leap to self-employment before them. Attorneys, novice or experienced, may look to strike up a conversation with a respected judge in the hopes that it creates a relationship that can be tapped from time to time for litigation advice. The possibilities are endless. The important first step, is to take simply reach out for help. A common perception is that asking for help is a sign of weakness, that it somehow creates a burden or that people will lose respect for you. The irony in that way of thinking is that not doing so may come across as arrogance. In any industry, arrogance is a dangerous perception.
Each of us intuitively evaluate each other, look for similarities upon which to share stories or create connections. This is especially true in the business world and highlights the importance of having a solid sense of self awareness. Mentorships are the seeds of creating not only self-awareness, but also personal effectiveness and emotional intelligence. The marketing space, and more specifically, the content creation industry is heavily reliant on these soft skills and provides the basis from which the best storytelling content comes from. In our experience, the best content comes from those that have something to say from a practical perspective born out of past business relationships and shared experiences. A large number of these stories tend to have a common theme; Mentorships.