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January 11, 2016

What Makes a Great Mentor?

January 11, 2016

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” Steven Spielberg

Mentoring is something I’m super passionate about. I’ve had the tremendous blessing of having mentors during various seasons in both my professional and personal life. I’ve also had the opportunity to mentor high school and college age women over the past several years, and it is a huge privilege to be trusted enough to walk through life’s adventures with another person. So what makes a mentor great? As I reflect back on the mentoring relationships I've had, these are some qualities that have made them great:

A great mentor is someone willing to show up and simply be present. We all have a desire to be heard, to know that someone is truly listening to us. A great mentor doesn’t have an agenda. They know when to ask questions, and when to listen. They value quality time.

A great mentor provides a healthy balance of both empathy and accountability. They speak the truth in love, always looking out for your best interest, but willing to give you a kick in the pants when you get off track.

A great mentor recognizes potential and inspires greatness. In some ways, it’s like having someone hold up a mirror, helping you see both your strengths and your opportunities for improvement. They don’t accept excuses and encourage you to make your own unique mark on the world.

A great mentor engages both your head and your heart. They seek to understand the things that you care about the most and help you make sense of how to live out those passions. They celebrate curiosity and encourage you to think bigger, outside the limitations we often give ourselves.

Winston Churchill said: “We make a living by what we get, and make a life by what we give.” I’m so grateful for the people that have been willing to give me their time and wisdom. I know I’m a better person because of it.

This post is part of Think Kit, our community blogging project. Today’s prompt: “Role models. Life is so much easier when you have someone to help you navigate. What makes a mentor great? Have you ever had a mentor? Been someone else's?

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