What is a mentor? I searched out quotes on mentors to see what people had to say. Here are some of my favorites:
A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you. Bob Proctor, Author, Speaker and Success Coach
The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.? -Benjamin Disraeli
Every Timothy needs a Paul; Every Ruth needs a Naomi.- Pastor Aaron Williams (Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Seattle WA)
I had always seen a mentor as someone to admire, someone to whom you aspire, someone whose advice you trust. As I read these quotes, I developed a more mature understanding. A mentor is someone who helps you discover and develop the talents already inherent within you.
When I first entered the career world, the wisdom of the time pushed people to discover their weaknesses, and attempt to strengthen them. We took workshops and seminars, filled out assessments, and discovered our weaknesses. Then we set about changing ourselves. With mixed results.
Fast forward after a ten-year hiatus raising my children. The new wisdom had turned to ‘Strength Finder.’ The idea centered on finding your strengths, and exploiting your talents. Suddenly it was okay that I was a loner! I didn’t have to force myself out of my shell.
I felt like a window had opened for me. Instead of fighting my nature, I could harness my strengths. For me, a true mentor is someone who helps you exploit your talents.
Almost five years ago, I joined Romance Writers of America, and my local chapter, Heartland Writers Group. I was terrified at my first meeting. I had never written a word. (Who joins a writers group if they’ve never written anything? Me, evidently!) When they asked me what I wrote, I misunderstood the question and thought they said, ‘read.’ The next meeting, my name tag had three lines: Sherri Shackelford, writes Regency, Victorian, some Contemporaries and the occasional Western.”
Luckily for me, I met Cheryl St.John at that meeting. I still remember the peach shirt she was wearing. In a weird quirk of fate, I discovered that we had lived only blocks apart for many, many years. We bonded over the old neighborhood, and Cheryl invited me to join her critique group for a limited, six-week, learning session.
Had I realized the six weeks was an ‘audition’ period, I probably would have frozen in fear. Luckily for me, I’m kind of slow. After six weeks, they invited me to stay for good. Cheryl gave me the best writing advice I’ve ever received: eventually, you just have to believe in yourself.
Cheryl trained me in writing, and when it was time, she kicked me out of the nest. The novel I submitted to Harlequin Historical wasn’t picked up, but I received my very first personalized rejection. In writing, that’s a win!
It took another year after Cheryl encouraged me to submit before I sold a book. Cheryl encouraged me the whole way, and taught me the most important thing a mentor can teach a mentee: Eventually, you have to believe in yourself. A true mentor gives you the power to discover your talents, and believe in yourself.
A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul.
Visit her website at: http://sherrishackelford.com/