At Women in Travel we often hear about the importance of mentoring for women and how having a mentor can enhance our career in Travel and Tourism. Indeed, in recent years, mentoring has become a buzz-word. You only need to pick up a female magazine, a business publications or google the word to find out that many thousands of pages have been written on it. But why?
Mentoring is as old as humankind. The word transports us back to ancient Greek mythology, to the time when Ulysses entrusted his son to his friend Mentor before leaving for a long war. Ulysses asked mentor to turn his boy into a man, to teach him the rope of life. Ever since mentoring signifies a relationship with an older and wiser person who ‘has been there, got the t-shirt’ and can therefore share his/her wisdom with you.
But how does this apply to our day and age of technological progress and fast paced communication?
Mentoring has evolved over time, but its core aspects remain and so does its value.
As an individual woman or man you can use a mentor, or more than one, for different personal and professional purposes:
-To address on-going issues and challenges, in your personal and professional life
-To help you raise your own confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness
-To help you identify and pursue a pathway, whether in relation to work or your private life
-To start new projects, careers, or indeed a business.
There are almost no limits to what mentoring can do for you, because it is meant to be a safe yet energising environment in which to discuss ideas within the fear of being judged or assessed in any way. A mentor is there to support you, stimulate your thinking, and stretch you at times. BUT above everything else a mentor is there to help you achieve YOUR potential.
Mentors can be found in many context: in work, at a club, within professional associations. Many mentoring relationships are informal and therefore free.
These can work very well and suit your situation if you have clarity about your objectives and you fully trust the mentor.
As you attend ATM and more specifically the Women in Travel event look out for possible mentors. If you find that you click with somebody or somebody inspires you because of what they have achieved, they are potentially perfect mentoring material!
There are however situations in which it is better for you to put some more structure around the relationship. For example, when clarity is missing or when you need to identify positive and tangible outcomes. In these cases a ‘professionally trained’ or qualified mentor is a better choice.
Is all mentoring done one a one to one, face to face basis? Technology has helped us develop different way to deliver mentoring and it is not uncommon to have a remote relationship, taking place over Skype or other such media.
Moreover, mentoring can also take place in a group context, can be reversed (a younger person mentoring a more senior professional), can be focused on specific areas (supporting and promoting women in the work place, maternity and returners mentoring and so on). Often these approaches are found within companies who have embedded mentoring in the way they operate.
As an individual, I encourage you to look around you to see if you can find a mentor to help you grow in different areas of your life. Through mentoring you will discover opportunities and options you did not know you had.