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The Beauty and Obstacles of Mentorship:

The Beauty and Obstacles of Mentorship:

"A truly great mentor is hard to find, difficult to part with, and impossible to forget."

To many people the word “mentorship” describes a formal, awkward or often unattainable relationship structure.

Yet for others, this formal definition is no longer relevant. Why? Well because the relevance of the word mentor now stems from its plasticity and ability to describe a continuous community - not a single, hierarchical relationship

While some people may have formal life-long mentors, chances are that most people interact with thousands of mentors throughout their lifetime. From personal experience, the reason for this seems to be that at most major turning points in one’s life, the probability of finding another person rooting, inspiring and pushing us to our next step is extremely high. Because whether it be a family member, tutor, professor, youth group leader, friend, business mogul or yoga teacher-  few things are truly accomplished alone. 

So, if mentorship does not have to be awkward or formal, it must be all butterflies and unicorn  right? I mean after all, most famous, successful, influential people attribute their success to the aid of a mentor, (see Top 25 Mentoring Relationships in History).

Not so much. Because regardless of the undeniable benefits of mentorship, an informal survey will likely reveal that mentorship is still underutilized. One potential explanation for this: our ideal representation of mentorship crumbs in the face of pressures from our individualistic culture. 

So with that being challenge in mind, in today's post I'm going to challenge three obstacles that I think prevent mentorship. 

Three obstacles to mentorship: pride, competition and sacrifice.

1. Pride.

It’s hard to deny the fact that our individualistic society subtly implies that help and weakness are synonymous. And although this reality is far from the truth, the resulting pressure is certainly not.

Real talk, we can often trick ourselves into believe that independence is the best way achieve our goals. And unfortunately for many people, this reality means that seeking and embracing a mentor defies societal expectations. 

But this doesn’t have to be the case. 

One of the best ways to fight our pride, is to realize that our individualistic culture has it’s downsides. What does this mean? This means that sometimes we have to bravely break societal norms, with the underlying understanding that external guidance and growth go hand and hand.

2.) Competition.

The beauty in our previous definition of mentorship lies in its broad and encompassing spectrum. A spectrum that states that a mentor does not have to fit into a specific or formal box. But because the expression “community over competition” is challenging to accept in our individualistic world, this characteristic of mentorship is kinda, actually totally, INSECURING. 

But this doesn’t have to be the case.

I truly believe it's possible to be inspired, rather than threatened by a community of mentors. This of course is not to say that denying our innate tendency to constantly compete will be easy.

However, this is to argue that humility enables us to overcome this tendency in order to fully embrace a broad definition of mentorship.

   A definition that encourages learning to study, acknowledge and even praise our talented peers while also embracing our individual differences.

3.) Sacrifice.

Involvement in different community organizations is often the catalyst for a symbiotic relationship with mentorship. One of my favorite expressions states that one must first fill up their own cup before they can pour into others.

So much of the beauty of this expression lies in its versatility. Not only does this expression apply in the emotional and spiritual realm, but it also applies in realm of mentorship.

Yet participating and benefiting from a symbiotic mentoring relationship requires an ingredient that many people prefer to avoid: sacrifice.

But this doesn’t have to be the case.

True as it is that both being a mentor and being mentored requires sacrifice of some sort (i.e. time, energy, resources), the payoff far outweighs the cost. But of course, one of the only ways to realize this payoff is by experiencing and embracing mentorship firsthand.

And at the end of the day, behind the obstacles, mentorship is a unique way to connect and grow like never before.

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