It’s been estimated that the average person spends over 90,000 hours of their lives at work, which is an awful long time no matter how you look at it.
Maybe you’ve noticed that regardless of what type of work we are engaged in, delivering our best work consistently and to the level we know we are capable of can be tough. Life is busy, demanding and sometimes chaotic. Sometimes we feel tired, worried or overwhelmed, all of which adds to the difficulty of staying match fit and future ready.
Which is why working with others is so beneficial, to share the load, to bounce ideas around with and talk face to face with.
As human beings we are wired to connect with others. This has been an essential survival tool. Human infants are born immature and totally dependent on adults. Secondly, living or working in groups provided us safety in numbers and the ability to share knowledge and skills so we don’t all have to know everything about everything (thank goodness).
Thirdly connecting with an/or others allows us to stretch our existing capability so we improve, up-skill or consolidate our knowledge base.
Many professions demand their affiliates to demonstrate this through compulsory CPD programs – designed to keep all practitioners up to speed and operating to best practice.
For others running their own businesses the option here is to engage a business coach or mentor.
Mentoring works well because two minds coming together leads to a greater level of insights on the part of the mentee (and sometimes for the mentor!) greater creativity, possibility thinking and drives performance.
We work harder and do better when held accountable and stepping up to a challenge that pushes us out of our comfort zone, away from the status quo. The consequence is we feel rewarded and our dopamine levels are boosted leading to a greater sense of achievement and quiet contentment.
As a former principal of a group medical practice, I was only too well aware of my own shortcomings around the area of how to run a business. (There are some things you just don’t get taught in medical school!) Which is why over the years I have sought out and worked with mentors: people I know and respect, who understand who I am and what I am looking for in terms of growing my business.
This is invaluable at all levels. When we connect with people we like our levels of oxytocin increase. This hormone acts to help us form bonds whether between a parent and child, with our partner, with our friends and with our colleagues.
We also seek people “like” us, those who share similar values, beliefs and worldviews. It’s no coincidence that those in your inner circle of friends enjoy similar activities, common associations, or share the same taste in music.
When we are with people we like who we sense are like us (sorry that’s a lot of likes – maybe I should set up a Facebook page!) we feel safe and this takes us back to the basic premise of the brain’s priority that is: to keep us safe.
(For managers leading teams this can obviously set up more of a challenge because you may have a group of people who don’t share those commonalities. Getting them to work well together can be a challenge and is the topic for another time.)
Mentors come and go at different stages in our lives, each bringing their own special gifts. I consider myself extremely blessed to have worked with some extraordinary mentors and to have spent time with some extraordinary mentees.
That’s why when operating in an uncertain world and looking for ways to thrive in our future, working with a mentor is what can make all the difference because 1+ 1 will always be greater than the sum of individual parts.
Do you work with a mentor?
Are you a mentor to others?
Could mentoring be your next step to future proof your career or business?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I am a mentor to leaders and teams in professional practice . I consider it a great privilege to work alongside clever people and help them develop the skills they mostly weren’t taught at University.! The most common thing people ask me about is how do we move from ‘good’ to ‘great’ at what we do? For most practices this is about identifying, prioritising and actioning a portfolio of improvements across the business – with the aim of increasing revenue, developing the leadership and engaging the team.
H Julene,Thanks so much for your comments. I love how you have summarised your work as a mentor – you are so right there is a lot we are not taught either at school or University which is where mentoring becomes so useful.