Martin Luther King Jr Day, or MLK Day, is an American federal holiday. A day filled with service and reflection in recognition of the work done and path laid towards equity that Dr. King did throughout his life. Signed into law in 1983 the day of appreciation was recognized officially by all 50 states in the year 2000. The model set by Dr. King rings clear in the hearts that carry on the morals, method, and ethic of work today. The individuals that bring messages of change that stick with us help us find our own voice in the sea of noise.
January is National Mentoring Month. Days are filled with staying busy and reflecting on the people helping us make that path ahead saves stress. Working in a silo or with low amounts of recognized support in our lives in finding next steps is difficult. The people we look up to directly in our lives or as models in history guide the steps we choose to move along. Teachers, parents, principles, preachers, elders, and other authority figures in our lives are common examples of the people that fill these roles for us. More often today peers a few years older or from different backgrounds can offer advise akin to that of role models years older. Growing up along side ones role models offers unique ways to test and true the path being forged. As time passes the approach to finding next steps becomes more important than the shrinking proportional difference in age between mentor and mentees. Shared experience and reliability are central to strong role model and mentoring relationships. Many qualities can shine in being a strong mentor. Compassion, fairness, curiosity, honesty, approachability, preparedness, and openness communicating what is known about new areas being explored are all qualities that help make a mentor life changing.
We are in the connected age yet it feels harder than ever to communicate with those around us. Many share that connections they do nurture feel fleeting or strained. Finding a mentor that can remove those worries helps spend less time worrying about how we are asking questions and exploring sensitive perspectives so more time can be focused on what lessons can be gathered for choosing the best steps forward. When mentors and mentees connect informally it is helps to have a shared interest or an unexplored interactive one upon which the connection can build. Many games that can be good for general bonding and play such as chess, checkers, connect four, and other board games, can feel oppositional. Playing these kinds of games early might skew the relationship from the onset depending on temperament and competitiveness. It would serve well to do collaborative activities such as puzzles, escape games, team games (board or field sports), or shared current interests to reduce the conversational strain early in building communication ease.
Figuring it out
Finding common groups of interest is another tried and true way to connect with mentors doing relatable work. Based on the professional interest in mind mentors can be found in professional development groups and meetup events. Connection opportunities are more numerous in urban areas but finding others online reduces the hurdles around distance. Join our mentoring network for future opportunities to connect and share about the paths ahead together.