By Dawn Onley
Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed with some great mentors and role models. People who cared enough to get involved, who spent countless hours giving me invaluable advice, reviewing and editing my work, providing feedback and making vital introductions. All of this has helped to shape my career and life journeys.
I got to benefit from their lessons learned. They stepped up and eagerly helped me finagle key decisions. Their support was immeasurable and I am grateful for such deliberate kindness and direction.
One volunteered to mentor me through a program my college newspaper set up that matched journalism students at Norfolk State University with reporters from The Virginian-Pilot/Ledger-Star, a mid-sized daily newspaper that served my college town.
Some, I approached and asked if they would mentor me. I saw something in them that I wanted to emulate. So, I went for it. I asked if they would teach me what it was that they excelled at, and in most cases people willingly obliged.
In whatever area in my life in need of direction, I’ve always found it helpful to read, study, meet, and when possible, align myself with the people who have been there and done that, successfully. It has made a real impact. It has gotten me through doors that would have taken much longer to knock down on my own. In some cases, it even put me at the top of the list for job interviews.
Some of these mentors have been formal; many more have been informal. The one thing they all have in common is I admire them. I have a lot of respect for them. Some don’t even realize that when I spend time with them, they’re teaching me. I use these moments to soak up as much knowledge as I can. Always the lifelong student, I strive to apply what I’ve learned.
From them, I’ve learned about stocks and real estate. I’ve learned about book proposals and mothering a toddler. I’ve learned techniques to baking and how to negotiate. And so much more.
Who we align ourselves with in life is extremely important. It can influence how far we go. If everybody on our team is in our same boat, with the same knowledge and experiences, how will we learn new things to get us to a new level?
Mentors make a difference. In my life, they’ve made a huge impact. We should always look for ways to learn and for people to teach us something we don’t already know.