5 Unique Reasons Why You Need a Mentor


by Stephanie Bravo

National Mentoring MonthSince January is National Mentoring Month, it’s the perfect opportunity to start out the New Year right by adding, “find a mentor” to your resolutions. Every new mentor has admirable skills and qualities that can help you succeed. Here are some unique reasons why you need a mentor this year and for many years to come…

1. Mentors can serve as the voice of reason.
Let’s face it we all experience conflict in our lives. Whether it’s a heated argument with a significant other or feeling like our voices aren’t heard at school or work, stress can cloud our judgment and lead to poor decision-making. When we get too emotionally involved in tense situations, our logical brains shut down and see red, green, or whatever colors the emotion evokes. It’s so easy to revert to black-and-white thinking (e.g. “here’s why I am right and why you should listen to me”), but this negates progress towards a solution and can dampen a potentially productive relationship. When this happens it’s essential to have someone there who you can turn to and help you think about a problem in a calm and rational manner. A mentor is the perfect person to support you when you need to let off steam, and to bring you back to reality by offering their insights into what the situation actually is, why both parties may have behaved in such a manner, and how you can work with or around the situation at hand.

2. Life is a class and those with mentors are setting themselves up for success.
Do you remember your least favorite class in high school? For me, it was public speaking class because I used to get so nervous that I would run out of class feeling sick with huge, horrible mariposas in my stomach. But, I found a mentor, a friend who was great a public speaking, and he helped me realize that everyone in the audience really wanted me to succeed. Because of my mentor, I was able to reframe the whole public speaking experience. Although I still had to put in the work and practice my skills, I was able to curb my fears and feel more comfortable through my mentor’s help. And, I can successfully say that the butterflies are a lot smaller now. So whether it’s getting help with your studies, learning how to cope with an unreasonable suegra, or learning the ins and outs of office politics a well-suited mentor can help you get ahead of the curve.

3. They are your biggest cheerleaders.
With all the stresses of modern day life, who doesn’t need a cheerleader once in a while? I like to be my own cheerleader pumping myself up with pom-pom affirmations before a big event, but sometimes my negative voice drowns out the positive one. We all know that negative voice very well, “Ay! I look fat today” or “I can’t believe they chose me lead this meeting, I can’t do this!” So, when this voice gets too much airtime, I call up a mentor. My mentors have the ability to put me in a great mood, instill confidence in me, and help me believe in myself. From the sidelines, they’re the ones who are saying, “You have everything you need to succeed!” and “You’re going to do great!” Mentors got your back even when you’re losing the game, and most importantly they’ll be there for the upcoming games—rain or shine.

4. You do not know it all.
Sometimes many of us or our loved ones suffer from sabe-lo-todo syndrome. Apart from sounding very confident, this has the adverse effect of working against you because if you think you know it all already, then why do you need to listen to anybody else, right? Wrong. You cannot possibly know it all and when you think you are an expert because of one minor life experience or because you heard a comadre tale validating something as a “fact,” you cut yourself off from learning new things and being open to other points of view. That’s where a mentor steps in to provide you with perspective identifying the scope of a problem and offering multiple suggestions to help you weigh all of your options so that you can successfully solve it. They have been around a lot longer, have struggled through similar situations, and can tell you what’s around the corner based on their experiences. So, stop getting in the way of your own success with the know-it-all attitude and be open to learning from people who want to help you succeed.

5. You are too important to be mediocre.
Despite what you may believe or what critics may say–YOU are special. You were put on this planet to fulfill your highest potential and to be the best you possible. Mentors can help you be the person you want to be and will not let you settle. They are there to set the bar high, to keep you on track in pursuit of your goals, and to help you actualize your potential. They are the ones who are pushing you to submit your application for the CEO/Executive Director role when you aren’t sure of yourself. They are the ones who are keeping you from volunteering with every single nonprofit and bringing you back to your goal of mastering flamenco guitar. Mentors want to be there for you because YOU are important. So find yourself a mentor and get ready to live up to your potential!

Stephanie Bravo is the Co-Founder and President of StudentMentor.org, a nonprofit organization that helps college students achieve their academic and career goals through the power of mentoring. As a first generation college student, Stephanie was only able to graduate from San Jose State University earning a B.A. in Psychology through the help of a mentorship program. Her life-changing experience with a mentor inspired her to help other students succeed in higher education. Stephanie is an active advocate for increasing Latinos in higher education through her volunteer work at the Latina Coalition for Silicon Valley and Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Stephanie is a proud Mexican-American spanning back four generations to the 1940s when her great-grandparents retired migrant farming and settled in San Jose, California.