We've talked a lot over the past several months about digital transformation, how to define your desired state and plot your course to get there. There's a key component of this (and any growth journey) that we don't often talk about explicitly, and that's personal transformation. Pushing ourselves to change our behaviors and mindset can be daunting (and both physically and emotionally exhausting), and it can feel like a lot of tough, solitary work that can't be delegated to anyone else. This is where working with a mentor (or several) can really help you get clarity and motivation.
Like most, I typically only seek out mentor guidance at certain critical points in my life—when I'm stuck in a tough spot or facing a big decision and feeling really raw and vulnerable. But a recent inspiring conversation with a mentor is challenging me to rethink this approach. Why don't I do this more often? I know that I leave our conversations feeling refreshed and invigorated by the perspective of someone who has been through the same challenges and then some to get where they are. I start to see things in a new light and I get back in touch with why I'm doing what I'm doing. Imagine how that could up-level my day-to-day activities if I started treating mentor time like a preventative wellness exercise rather than an emergency medical treatment!
Mentoring can have several layers and serve many purposes—from answering questions and providing guidance on issues you're facing to provoking new ways of thinking and making connections for you with others that will give you insights you're needing. Some of these relationships are long-term, others more finite, and often the mentor may not fit our preconceived notion of what a mentor should be (older and more experienced, someone successful in the same field, the Master to the Padawan). Many martial arts masters speak about holding onto a beginner or student mindset, realizing that learning opportunities can arise anywhere, at any level, and can unlock insights that lead to constant improvement and refinement of the arts. What can you learn from a younger person, someone in a different field or with a completely different background and set of skills?
Arguably, even some experiences can serve a mentoring role, like traveling or volunteering or exploring new learning opportunities. I think about the stories of Silicon Valley execs trekking out to the desert for events like Burning Man and realize they're doing the same thing: sparking new thoughts, gaining life-altering perspectives, learning how to transform themselves, work together to create something bigger, and forge solid connections with community in a completely foreign environment. New experiences can open our minds and hearts and horizons, and inspire us to create moving experiences for others as well.
How else can we benefit from mentor interactions? Sometimes it's a matter of keeping ourselves sane when we're going through stressful personal or professional transformation, getting reassurance that we're on the right path, or guidance on how to course correct. As we drive transformation on an organizational scale, seeking out insights from different audiences and experts can help smooth transition and better land desired behavior shifts. And when it comes to staying relevant and up-to-date with trends and industry movements, mentors can serve a pivotal role, giving us the real scoop on areas where we may not have the most exposure.
Ready to find and engage with a mentor, but don't know where to start? Be active in the community and connect with people. Seek out those with expertise different from your own. Even more importantly, look for ways to mentor someone else! This is why this community exists, to bring together folks with a wide range of experiences and a common goal, because we know that transformation doesn't happen in a vacuum. Be a catalyst for perspective shift by seeking out and learning from engaging experiences, and sharing your experiences with others. You don't know whose journey you might impact, or what reciprocal growth experiences will come your way. Relationships are work, yes, but the benefits of engaging in a trusted mentorship are immeasurable.