Mentorship and the Importance of Story. By: Sarah Haggard
I’ve always been a storyteller. Stories entertain. They make us laugh. They make us cry. They remind us of our humanness, and leave us feeling raw and inspired all at once. They are the keepers of ancient wisdom, our legacy, and cultures all around the world. Stories hold tremendous power. We’ve all walked out of a movie hiding tears of sorrow at a story well told. Binged a Netflix series or finished a good book, and mourned it’s end. Our souls deeply moved, called into action.
So what does storytelling have to do with mentorship?
The origin of the word mentor comes from one of the great stories ever told, Odysseys. Mentor was Odysseys “wise and trusted advisor.” Today, mentors are in more demand than ever. We all want a sage advisor to turn to when the going gets tough. The challenge is, wisdom isn’t gained in the classroom nor in the boardroom; the places we most often look to for mentorship. Wisdom is gained from lived experiences, which are best told through stories.
Our age and years’ experience isn’t the sole indicator of wisdom either.
Some of us have lived a few lives over by the time we reach our twenties. While others are lucky enough to life a life of ease, privilege and stability. The truth is we’re only expert in our own life experiences, knowledge comes and goes. I lost my Mom at age 27. I mentor women in their 40s, 50s and 60s dealing with the loss of a parent because I understand grief, having lived through it. Developing the ability to narrate our life experiences using story is key to being able to mentor, or be a “wise and trusted advisor” for others.
So what can you do to become a wise and trusted advisor for someone else? The first step is to know your story. Here are five ways you can get started today.
1. Make a lifeline chart, plotting out the high and low moments in your life.
2. Make a list of common themes that emerge from that timeline.
3. Write your story, highlighting those key themes, in less than 1,000 words.
4. Practice telling your story.
5. Sign up to become a mentor, sharing your story and passion for mentoring others from your lived experiences.
In a world where mentors are in more demand than supply, getting to know your story is the greatest gift you can give someone else. It is also where you’ll find your greatest passion and purpose.
Sarah Haggard is the CEO and Founder of Tribute, a modern mentorship app for the workplace that connects employees together for mentorship through shared life experiences and stories. When not working, Sarah enjoys reading, writing, mentoring college students and spending time on her houseboat with friends and family in Seattle, WA.