Mentoring is all the rage these days. We commonly think of it as a relationship between senior and junior employees of the same company. But such a shortsighted understanding of the mentoring principal often prevents self-employed individuals, like insurance brokers, from seeking out invaluable mentor-mentee relationships. This is a mistake.
There is nothing in either the definition or practical applications of mentorship to confine such relationships to employees of the same company. In fact, mentoring does not have to be confined to the workplace.
Most English dictionaries define a mentor as an experienced coach or a trusted advisor. As for mentors themselves, they offer varying definitions based on their own personal experiences. As a general rule though, a mentor is a person with extensive knowledge, experience, connections who passes on what he or she possesses to others through interpersonal relationships.
You Don't Know What You Don't Know
There is tremendous power in mentoring. As a young insurance broker trying to build your business, the power lies in the fact that you don't know what you don't know. You may think you have a handle on what it takes to build a successful brokerage. You may spend all of your available free time reading blog posts and listening to podcasts. But in the end, you are probably only reinforcing whatever knowledge you already possess.
Mentoring exposes you to new ideas and thoughts. It reveals the many holes in your knowledge base. But it doesn't stop there. After revealing what you don't know, mentoring provides the required knowledge to change things. It fills in those gaps in your knowledge base.
Experience Is the Best Teacher
One thing you will learn as a mentee is that knowledge isn't everything. In fact, knowledge cannot hold a candle to experience. The fact is that experience is always the best teacher. It always has been and always will be. The one thing a mentor can provide that you cannot get anywhere else is personal experience.
A mentor can help you walk through a current challenge by explaining how he or she faced, and conquered, the exact same challenge years ago. A mentor can use his or her experience to help you see what you cannot see on your own. The person can relay past successes and failures with the intent of teaching you valuable lessons you could never learn from a video series or podcast.
Two Heads Are Better Than One
An important aspect of mentoring that often gets overlooked is the fact that it is a two-way relationship. Both mentor and mentee invest in the relationship and draw benefits from it. In this regard, two heads are absolutely better than one.
You will find that what you are able to invest in this relationship will help you strengthen your relationships with customers. You will find that what you draw out of the relationship will make you more successful as a business owner and a person. Likewise, your mentor will have similar experiences.
It turns out that the best mentors know that growth and learning never stop. They know they have as much to learn from the mentoring relationship as their mentees. And because they want to draw from the relationship, they are willing to invest as much or more.
As a broker trying to build your business, do not discount the power of mentoring. Don't believe the myth that mentoring only applies to employees who work for the same company. Mentoring is equally applicable to your business. There are experienced and knowledgeable brokers out there quite eager to be your mentor. You just have to find them.