Relationships are a pivotal aspect of a meaningful life; Mentor relationships can be some of the most powerful.
Mentorship is a timeless and ageless right of passage. From the beginning of time, human beings have taught and shown each other how to navigate life through shared experience, offering advice, and guidance.
The inspiration and perspective gained during the mentorship experience can help people find and continue to surface both career direction and purpose. The power of the right conversation with the right person can change your whole life.
Recently we sat down with Wayne Crawley, an active mentor to many. Mr. Crawley is a Canadian entrepreneur with over 30 years of business development experience with both public and private companies. Crawley has always had a strong belief that, “human beings are put on earth to find purpose, and serve others. In fact you’ll live longer than others if you do, and engaging in mentorship is part of that.”
Crawley knew he needed a mentor if he wanted to find success in life, and for him that meant helping others. A man who does not do things halfway, at the age of 27 he asked for a meeting with his boss. He shares, “I let him know that I wanted to do more in the community, and I wanted to learn from the best. Five minutes later he was on the phone with Ruth Goldbloom, (a Canadian philanthropist who co-founded the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21), and she asked me to meet her at 4 pm for my first ‘assignment’.”
When we asked him why he didn’t just ask his boss to mentor him, he explained “It’s helpful when a mentor is not in a power position in relation to you. Each of us has an opportunity to impact another life, and learn from each other. Whenever I am meeting with a mentee, I am always trying to learn from them, to gain a different perspective. You have to try not to judge, each perspective has something to teach you. I always advocate to try and have two mentors. One who is in your company, and the other is a true mentor, cheerleader, confident and consultant.”
The reality is we are hardwired for mentorship
The cyclical nature of mentorship is evident in our brain’s neurological response to giving and receiving support. This feedback loop is a well established part of our evolution as feeling beings. In a study in February 2016, The Neurobiology of Giving Versus Receiving Support: The Role of Stress-Related and Social Reward-Related Neural Activity, “when someone in need receives help, he or she benefits directly from the social support; simultaneously, the giver benefits in specific brain regions associated with stress, reward, and caregiving.”
The study goes on to say, “the findings also suggest that giving support is part of a feedback loop that makes giving social support rewarding to the giver. This is a generous biological design that is probably key to our survival and well-being as a species.” Crawley is in full agreement.
“I think mentoring is meetings, it is phone calls, but I think mentoring is sharing and engaging in experiences. Mentorship can bring you to important life changing experiences. Ruth spent a little bit of time with me, allowing me to learn a few things, so now if I meet a strong young person I just say yes and help them, most importantly in a very trusting and “non-position of power” kind of way.”
Mentorship can be healing for both the mentor and mentee
Finding the right person, at the right time, can truly change a life. Having a helping hand lift you up when you need it most can propel you to a place you might not get to on your own. Crawley is adamant that each mentor/mentee relationship is a unique experience. “It requires flexibility, it’s about that particular person and bringing out the best in them. It’s about where the mentee is at, so you meet them there, and then help move them to where they want to be in life”.
For these reasons, it’s important to create a trusting environment. As with any relationship, this takes time and a certain degree of vulnerability. Sharing what is truly important to you, on both sides, leads to positive results. Explaining this in one of his many analogies, Crawley offers, “every little bird with a broken wing isn’t going to be my mentee, but at least if they can start to get a little bit better, they can find another place to heal and grow. If someone is confident they are in a secure trusting place, they’ll make the best decision for themselves”.
He continues, “For me in mentorship, there has to be the trust environment, setting the expectations, and managing what we are really looking for in those expectations. Mentees can turn up the volume for whatever they are ready for, and the mentor has to be able to let them go on their own, and not force his or her life on them. If you really care about them, you don’t want to make them you.”
Mentorship can change lives
We asked Crawley what legacy he hopes to leave by taking the time to mentor and help so many people. He was quick to say, “Enabling others to do what you do at EnPoint. Which is supporting others to do work they are passionate about, what’s right for them. You are going to help others that I’ve never met — it is the ripple effect. If you are truly mentoring someone, there’s no return. It’s not a commercial activity. It’s the joy of going home and saying I did my best, I told my mentee the truth and hopefully that person has a little better life because of the work we did together.”
Crawley named his relationship with Ruth, his mentor, as a key reason he has chosen to continue to support others to reach their potential. Jennifer Gillivan, president and CEO, IWK Foundation, offers this sentiment on the type of woman Ruth was in The Canadian Jewish News’ profiles on 40 of the most prominent jewish Canadians in History. “I know a side of Ruth that got the new immigrant a bus ticket, a job, clothes, education or a connection to help find a job. Ruth was passionate about the underdog and no matter what you did or didn’t do in life, when she was talking to you, it felt like you were the most important person in the world.”
EnPoint is on a mission to help 1 million people to connect to the right person at the right time. We know that mentor relationships can be some of the most pivotal in helping to make that happen. Mentor relationships, like any relationship, take work. Each pair creates expectations and agreements that work for them.
Check out Wayne Crawley’s golden rules of mentorship below to create healing, inspiring, and transformational mentor/mentee relationships.
Wayne Crawley’s Golden Rules of Mentorship
Each of us has an opportunity to impact another life, and learn from each other. Be willing to learn.
Be clear about your routine and expectations, what’s expected both ways when setting up a mentorship relationship.
Don’t disrespect your mentor’s time.
Explore the experiences offered in the mentorship, take risks and don’t overthink it.
Mentorship has a shelf life. Mentors aren’t forever, but the right ones, with the right agendas can really make a difference.
You are never too old to learn something new, and you are never too experienced to learn something from someone less experienced than you.
For more ways mentorship can have an impact on your career read our 3 Reasons Why Mentorship matters in your career or join our newsletter for for monthly updates and new reports on the power of mentorship and sponsorship!