Mentorships for Life

Professional mentor helping menteeBy Casey Jones, CAPP

Oprah Winfrey’s mentor was her fourth grade teacher. Dr. Martin Luther King drew upon his relationship with Dr. Benjamin Mays for inspiration, guidance, and wisdom through immensely difficult times, and Apple’s Steve Jobs tucked a young Mark Zuckerberg under his wing as Facebook was conceptualized and designed. It’s no surprise these people become icons of entertainment, arts, and civics. In fact, I’d bet that every successful person can identify a person or persons who have a substantial impact on their lives and careers. A coach, teacher, boss, or friend can make all the difference in the world as we navigate challenges at work and at home.

Mentors in our lives go well beyond what we term as role models and are people who take a keen and active interest in us imparting wisdom, empathy, guidance, and sometimes a needed kick in the pants, shoulder to cry on, or tough love. I have had the great fortune of having a few mentors and I’m thankful they took the time to actively be in my corner and share what they know and have experienced.

In many ways, I feel like I stumbled onto my mentors, never truly seeking one out and on one occasion, I didn’t really realize that I’d been mentored until some years later. What if I’d been focused on actively finding a mentor and nurturing the mentoring relationship from the start? Who knows how much more could have been gained by both me and my mentor. Mentorships from both the mentor and mentee perspectives are the proverbial get out what you put in and if I didn’t know I was “in” very likely I didn’t get “out” as much as I might have.

Being purposeful about mentorships is the better practice and there is much to discover about the respective roles of each party to the relationship, what to look for in a mentor and mentee in the first place, and how to manage the relationship from both sides.

I’m thankful to my mentors (you know who you are) and I hope to be a good mentor myself. It takes effort, focus, and some tools but it’s one of the most important things we can do for one another.

Casey Jones, CAPP, is director of customer success with Flash. He will present on this topic at the 2021 IPMI Parking & Mobility Conference & Expo, Nov. 29 – Dec. 3, in Tampa, Fla. Click here for details and to register.