Do you know where the word “mentor” comes from? I learned it recently while doing my mentor certificate (though I have been a mentor for many years now, I honestly think it was a good and useful experience!). The word “mentor” is inspired by the story of Telemachus, son of Odysseus, as described in The Odyssey of Homer. Odysseus, setting out on an expedition to Troy, entrusted the care of his son to his friend Mentor. It was him who showed him the world and taught him the applicable principles, as well as essential skills in adult life.

I love being a mentor. It happens that the terms, mentoring and coaching, are used synonymously. However, it is not the same because the mentor is required to prepare differently, he’s required to use a considerable amount of his own experience and partially different predispositions than the coach. In the coaching process, the coach asks the coachee questions and leads them to find the answers themselves. According to the methodology, the coach should not give ready-to-use answers. He also does not need to have experience in the field in which the trainee works. Such support is highly valuable but not always adequate, depending on development needs.

A mentor also does not impose his solutions, however a relationship with him has a completely different nature. A mentor, relying on both, his professional and life experiences, shares his knowledge, gives guidance, supports and encourages his mentee to gain their own experience and create their own unique path of development. That is why mentoring is remarkably effective. It is a combination of learning through experience with learning from others. It is a relationship in which the mentee, with the support of a mentor, carries out specific tasks or goals that are set for him. Thanks to this, the results come quickly.

Mentoring is especially close to my heart.  The foundation of the mentor – mentee relationship is trust and safety. That is why it is such a precious and unique relationship from which both parties can benefit. I love to watch and follow my mentees in their progress, to see them become mature in their professional roles, and I am personally inspired by their views and ideas. I have had important mentors in my life, although did not know it at the time. They had a huge impact on me and shaped how I work today and what values define my approach to work. I am forever grateful to them, for the time they devoted to me, for sharing their knowledge and experience, and for having patience with me. These reasons are undoubtedly why I am a mentor today and why I gain such satisfaction from the experience.

    © Iwona Wencel 2021
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