The next time you’re seeking out a mentor, skip networking groups and head home — really. If you’re putting all of your time and energy into following, commenting on and retweeting a wildly successful CEO via social media in the hopes that they’ll get the hint and become your mentor, you might be missing out on what’s right in front of you: the advice and assistance that comes from having a family of business mentors.
Far too often family members are dismissed as potential mentors for a slew of superficial reasons. Maybe they didn’t follow in the exact footsteps of your dream career path. Maybe they lack degrees or senior job titles and might be considered unqualified to influence your career because of it. Or maybe it’s just embarrassing to say aloud to other professionals that your mentor is actually your mom.
Sounds pretty silly when you see it written down like this, doesn’t it? As a person who does count my mother as one of my mentors, I can tell you that influence doesn’t limit itself to every person but those sharing your surname. Influence comes from everywhere, including those sitting to the left and right of you at the dinner table. The next time you’re at a family gathering, take a look around, and consider all of the mentorship possibilities that surround you. Here’s why you should be open to embracing family as business mentors.
Family influences your values from the start.
From an early age, my family taught me my core values. Some of these included the importance of a strong work ethic, balancing family and work, and giving priority to your family above all else. These messages have resonated with me my entire life and helped me become the business owner I am today.
One of the greatest things about having a family member as a mentor is the built-in connection. They are not strangers. You don’t have to start a fresh relationship together, and they don’t have to ask you about your background because they already know everything about you. During the course of being mentored, some of those core values from childhood will likely resurface and become a part of your road map to success. Just as you did as a child, listen and take the advice to heart.
You can meet face-to-face with them.
In an era of smartphones, FaceTime, Skype and social media, is it really even necessary to meet with your mentor face-to-face anymore? Absolutely. An article on Lifehacker sums up long-distance mentoring nicely by saying that occasional emails from an Internet connection are no substitute for someone who can physically check in with you. Your family is already invested in you and your success. As mentors, they can give you the attention that you need on a regular basis.
A lot of people encompass the word “family.”
It’s more than just moms and dads. Within my network, I count my parents, husband and two sons as mentors that teach me something new about myself. Family members as business mentors can include parents, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles and godparents. They can be any age. They can work in any field. As long as they have a valuable, honest perspective to offer, virtually anyone in the branches of your family tree can be your mentor.
They know how to give and take.
It is often said that mentorship is a two-way street, which is entirely true. Rather than view your family member turned mentor as an endless fountain of knowledge and resources just for you, know when to give and take from one another.
The two biggest ways that you can empower one another are by listening and giving each other advice. Give as much as you take, and you’ll discover that you can both learn from one another and have one another’s backs in all situations, regardless of past (or present) success.