Reaching back to mentorship
By Brian Thompson, 81st Training Wing
/ Published April 26, 2021
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Going through school we learn lessons and then take tests. For life we take tests and learn a lesson. Would it not be nice to take a look at what other’s learned before you are tested? Well that is exactly what having a mentor does for you.
We all have questions and can use the help from those that have gone before us. I have had several formal mentors and can say that I learned something from each of them. Even if what I learned was what not to do in a leadership role.
But those mentors that truly took a role of helping and pushing me are the ones I hope to mimic. These are the people that did not forget how they got to their positions and levels that they are at today and are willing to reach back to help pull someone else up with them.
Mentorship in today’s competitive environment is critical. Being able to lean on a mentor, to have them help show mentees the possibilities that are available sooner will help the mentee not waste time trying to figure out the next step they should take. That time wasted could be missed opportunities down the road.
Mentorship is important, not only for each of us to have a mentor but for each of us to be a mentor. Since we learn when we teach, we continue to learn when we mentor. Mentorship is a two-way street to that helps both parties be better in what they do every day.
Do not discount being an informal mentor, we all need those in our lives and careers. However, formal mentorship holds both parties accountable to meeting goals and it is that accountability of actions that pays off in the end. A great mentor that I have says all the time “Don’t talk about it BE about it.” What she is saying there is take action and not just make plans to take an action. Having a mentor there to hold you accountable to “be about it” is where the real help begins.
I challenge you to look around and find a mentor for yourself. Look for someone that does not look like you and might not always think like you. When we have a mentor that pushes us in a directions with new challenges, we grow faster and stronger. Be open minded about being a mentor if the opportunity arises for you. Be bold and step out to offer to be a mentor for someone you feel you could help and be prepared for the “no thank you” on the offer.
Mentorship is critical for our growth and I challenge everyone to reach out and find a mentor. There are formal avenues for finding a mentor. You can go onto MyVector and apply for a mentor. You can also use the Qooper app here at Keesler or you can find one within your own organization just by meeting and asking someone.
The Qooper app, also known as “Mentorship within Reach” here at Keesler is a pilot program to help find someone locally that has some of the same interests and qualities yet brings a different perspective from other career fields. This is something that you and your mentor can use from your phone and do not have to rely solely on the next time you meet. But whatever method you decide to use to select a mentor, don’t just talk about it . . . Be about it.