Mentorship Is Earned, Not Owed
This past Saturday, I had the great pleasure of moderating the final keynote session at the 2013 Blogging While Brown Conference, held in the Langston Hughes Auditorium of Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. (Black Enterprise was proud to be a media sponsor of the event.) Each year, hundreds of bloggers from across the nation are drawn to this event, founded by Gina McCauley, to network and learn best practices of launching, writing, growing and making a successful career and/or business of blogging. I was privileged to share the stage with reigning stars of the space: Necole Kane, Angel Laws, Karen Civil and Claire Siobhan Sulmers (founders of NecoleBitchie.com, ConcreteLoop.com, KarenCivil.com and FashionBombDaily.com, respectively).
During the course of taking questions from the audience, one of the attendees asked how she could get a blogger from the panel to be her mentor. To their credit, all of the successful bloggers on the panel expressed their enthusiastic commitment to mentoring others in their organizations, and graciously offered to be available to her. Of course, as the moderator, I couldn’t just leave it at that. I asked everyone in the audience who needed a mentor to raise their hands; about 60 percent of those present did so. Then I asked how many of them were currently mentoring others. You guessed it: About a third of the hands came down (although a few hands that had not been raised also went up). My point: You will always have a shortage of mentors if too many of those who want one are not committed to also being one. It doesn’t make sense to me how so many of us expect to get what we are not willing to give.
When you ask someone to be a mentor, is your interest in their journey, or their destination? Too many of those who want what mentors have are unwilling to learn what they know or do what they did to get it. The exceptions have no problem attracting mentors; they have the spirit and attitude that inspires others to want to claim them as proteges. Here’s what they know:
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