I have found that some of my biggest successes so far in my career are not necessarily landing big contracts, but mentoring people. It is a huge win for both the person you are guiding and yourself. Sometimes you don’t even realize how much of a positive impact you are having until you learn about their success stories.
A lot of times, business owners get caught up in the day to day operations and are so focused on making money that they forget there is a whole other side of what we consider successful to mean.
I have had many opportunities to guide young adults within the environmental sector. These days, I get a chance to shape the young minds that want to learn how we can conserve our natural resources and still have a successful and profitable business. You see, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Mentoring can come in all shapes and sizes. Personally, I really enjoy mentoring college students and post graduates. Their energy is refreshing and they have a strong can do attitude. The most important component though is that they have an open mind and are willing to learn and take on new challenges.
I really felt compelled to write this piece because of my most recent experience with our company intern. Prior to her coming on board, I was really hesitant about taking on another intern. We had interns in the past and while most started off well, many tended to peter off and not really finish the job they started. I was weighing the amount of time I was spending training them versus the benefits they were providing for the company.
That’s when I had the realization that it was me who wasn’t doing something right. At the time, I wasn’t really mentoring, I was training. Companies forgot or sometimes choose not to do right by their interns. When college students participate in an internship, they are looking to learn and acquire new skills in the industry they have spent the last 4 to 6 years studying. But what is happening instead is that companies many times treat interns as if they are an employee or a replacement for an old employee. Interns need to be guided through overarching concepts that will help them understand how and why things are done. It is best to avoid the “just get it done” mentality. The process of mentoring is in essence allowing a person to think freely and come to their own conclusions. You are simply the guide, the Yoda Master if you will.
I consciously chose to stop “training” and instead began the process of true mentorship. And that is where I saw a huge turn around in how our interns were responding. I spent productive one on one time explaining trends and how to go about effectively connecting with both the business and environmental audience. I shared my experiences both good and bad and gave solid advice on where they can focus their efforts. Basically, I turned the tables to make the internship about guiding and helping them instead of focusing on what they can do for me or the company.
Right now, I can say the internship is over for now, but the successes are just the beginning. The most rewarding part of mentoring is to see both the personal and professional growth over time.
There is a superb side effect that happens when you become a mentor. You are no longer just a leader, but a much stronger influencer in your business circles and the local community. The rewards are priceless. I encourage every entrepreneur and business owner out there to take time out of your day to become a mentor in your industry or community today.