Why mentoring matters

Finding a mentor or becoming a mentor can empower people to create positive and lasting changes in their lives, says Sarah Prime.

Sarah is an award-winning social entrepreneur, speaker and change agent who has empowered many rural communities and groups to create progressive change.

Sarah told KnowHow Founder Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast that her ultimate vision is a world where everyone strives to empower others to ‘champion a cause greater than themselves’.

“To me, a champion is a person whose actions motivate and inspire others and leave a legacy … and they recognise the importance of the legacy that they’re leaving, whether they’re doing it as a role model or mentor, an agent of social or economic change, or an altruistic purpose,” she said.

Part of leaving a legacy is creating constructive change in an environment through effective frameworks and methods, such as learning how to take off your ‘core belief’ glasses.

“Imagine you’ve got a pair of glasses that are a lens that you see everything through, and those lenses are made up of every single thing that you’ve ever learned in your life … [they are] the formative things we learn in schools and years from anyone who’s been a coach, mentor or leader of any kind,” Sarah said.

“So, it’s about learning how to take off those core belief glasses … they’re only going to lead us in a position or direction that aligns with what we already believe. And that’s not necessarily where the answers are.

“It’s about understanding that there are new and different ways of doing things. When you take those core belief glasses off, we might be able to solve problems differently … innovate differently … entrepreneurialise our ideas differently. We might be able to empower the next generation earlier and better than we thought we could. We might be able to get more people involved.”

Sarah said this is where mentorship is so important, and she identified the need to give people a mentor who is ‘going to support the transition of knowledge to the next generation and get behind them emotionally and give them the encouragement and motivation they need to keep learning a new thing every day’.

But how do you go about ‘championing change’ and becoming a role model or mentor? She said a mentor can be anyone, no matter their profession, age or relationship to you.

“A mentor is anyone who can challenge you and ask you questions about things that you can’t say. And it might be because you don’t have the same level of experience or it might just be that they’re an objective third party to what you’re going through,” Sarah said.

“They can be people who aren’t afraid to hold a mirror up to you. They are people unafraid to call it as it is and just say it bluntly. A mentor is someone who can help you arrive at your own without giving you the answer. They can ask you the questions, or more importantly, they can just hold the tension until you have that penny drop moment.

“They can do that with generosity. They can do that with patience and respect and kindness. Sometimes it’s tough love.”

Sarah said the key traits to look for in a mentor include honesty and the ability to emotionally detach from an issue.

“It really does help for people to think strategically rather than reactively. And with their emotions, I look for people who aren’t afraid to impose boundaries on the relationship. It’s really important that if you are looking for a mentor, you recognise that it is a huge investment of their time and energy,” she explained.

When finding a mentor, Sarah emphasised needing to approach the relationship with respect. This is to ensure your mentor doesn’t have a ‘my knowledge is my power’ mentality and is willing to share their information and experiences with you.

“[You need to be] willing to reach out and show them the respect that what they do is a lot of hard yards, that they have earned their stripes and they have the knowledge,” Sarah said.

“If you’re willing to reach out and say ‘I really look up to you, can I shadow you in that role? ‘, or if it’s not through that kind of scenario and it’s just in life, if you can demonstrate to them that you have very high regard for what they do, what you might actually find is they actually get a huge thrill out of teaching someone else.”

Listen to the full interview here.

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