Often in the business world, and even in books about how to be successful in the business world, like Lean In, they often talk about having a mentor. In education, beginning teachers are paired with a mentor teacher who can show them all the things that you aren’t taught in education classes. Sometimes, moving to a new school will get you a mentor teacher as well.
I was given one when I moved to my new district.
But what is the purpose of a mentor? Are they really necessary? How do you find one? And do they work in all fields? What about if you’re an author?
Just like we’ve talked about how important it is to make connections via social media. It’s also important to find someone who can guide you on your journey to the top of whatever career path you’ve chosen. While social media will get you followers, or clients, or readers, if you’re uncertain as to what you’re going to do once you have them, what’s the point?
A mentor is a coach/teacher/friend/confidante. They are someone who will guide you on your path, showing you how things really work, because when we first start out, we all have this idea of how things should be which rarely is how things really are.
Like, as I mentioned, in education.
In education classes, they teach you all about how to read data, and how to supposedly solve behavior problems by being in close proximity of the problem causer. It’s all stuff that only works in a textbook perfect world, and rarely works in real life. It’s the reason why programs like “Teach for America” exist: the textbook solutions don’t work in real life, and everyone knows it, yet the teacher certification programs refuse to adjust their teachings. Even though people in the field know it’s a new trial by fire with every teaching job you have, we still have to go through a broken system before they’ll give us a certification.
My first teaching job, I was doing an alternative certification program, in which I was doing actual teaching as my student teaching. It’s the best way to do it, in my opinion. Because you get to see the real life situation contrasted with the textbook situation. Just remember that, when taking your certification test, you still have to give the textbook answer, even though you now know it’s total crap.
Part of the reason why the alternative certification works so well is that you have a mentor who is there to show you how to do things the most effective way, while still following (as best you can) the textbook rules.
A mentor is someone to whom you can bring your concerns and they will help you to overcome any obstacles in your path. They’ve been through this before, whatever “this” happens to be in your given situation. And if they haven’t personally been through it, they’ve probably seen someone who has been through it before.
For instance, if you have a problem with a coworker, your mentor will know how to properly respond without making things worse.
Like earlier this year, I had an incident with someone on my team, and I was concerned I’d handled the situation wrong. My mentor looked at my response and helped me to feel better about how I responded. She was able to look at it and advise me the best ways to respond without offending anyone.
Actually, she read my response and pointed out how my response was more appropriate than the response by my team leader. But let’s not get too deep into that issue. It’s old news.
Now that I’ve been working more on my writing and getting into that life, I’ve had the luck to find something of a mentor to help me with one of the harder parts of the writing process: making the right kind of connections.
Making connections is an important part of progress in any field. As much as we like to believe we can move forward on our merit alone, being good will only get you so far if no one is around to notice how good you are.
Tabitha Barret is helping to get my name out there, and somewhat taking me with her as I move forward in my writing career.
The first time she helped me was when she wrote a post for me during my month long, in-depth study of the romance and erotica genre. Her post was, in a way, about the psychology of romance: why we crave it, and how we want to feel worthy of love. It was when I read her post that I knew she was someone I could learn from.
We have since become friends on several social media sites, and she’s invited me to several author events, even though I don’t think myself worthy of the title of author just yet. After all, I haven’t been published quite yet… though my poetry will be published soon.
Most recently, she has asked me to write a post for her about my struggle/process in becoming an author. Today, she posted it on her blog, “The Throne Room,” as part of an author spotlight series she’s running this month. It’s an amazing opportunity, and she had some very flattering things to say about my work, though it’s still in the early stages.
Though we never directly discussed it, I feel like Tabitha has taken me under her wing and become a mentor.
And because of how organically it happened, I feel that it is the best kind of mentorship. We connected because our views are similar, like our sense of humor and the way we view writing, but it’s grown into an actual friendship, and I feel like I can ask her anything! She will guide me to be the best author I can be, and help get my work out for the right people to see it.
I’m so grateful to have Tabitha in my corner! Go check out her page, and her books! She, too, is a paranormal romance author. She is author of the Third Throne Series, and they are definitely worth the read! Then stop on over the her blog and check out my post about the importance of Tone and Voice in your writing!