THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTORS

Published on: February 20, 2018

At a recent professional networking event, the subject of mentors was a topic of conversation. That got me thinking about my own mentors and how important a part they have played at different stages in my life. The classic definition of a mentor is someone who advises, guides, and counsels you in your professional development. I believe mentors can be much more than that in both our professional and personal lives, and they are essential to both.

In hindsight, my parents were my first mentors and continue to be to this day. I was lucky enough to grow up in a close-knit family. My parents have always been hard workers and passed that ethos on to me and my sisters. My mother never missed one of my sports games, dance recitals, piano lessons, or going over my schoolwork. She taught me selflessness, kindness, giving, and tireless effort which have all proved to be very important pieces of my adult life. My father supported us, kept us happy, safe, and never wanting for anything. My father taught me the meaning of diligence and the importance of always showing up on time and being ready to work. I could not have asked for better role models to mentor me throughout my life.

In college and law school, I came across a few memorable professors who left marks on my eventual career path. They were the type of teachers who not only taught their respective subjects but also taught life lessons; the type of teachers who guided you to the right answers but made sure you learned from the wrong ones as well. I remember one law professor, in particular, who knew I was struggling with a certain writing assignment. She had assigned the class to take a position that was the opposite of what we believed and vigorously argue in support of that opposing view. It was tough for me to defend something I did not believe in, but the professor took the time to help me appreciate the importance of counter-arguments: they serve to strengthen your own arguments. Her mentorship and lessons from that class have served me well in my legal career.

Since law school, I have encountered a couple of other colleagues whom I would consider mentors in the traditional sense. They are the people who have taken me under their wings to help me develop my knowledge of the areas of law in which I practice. In a condominium law firm, mentoring is especially important for attorneys because condominium law is such a specialized area of practice. Yes, there are general real estate law and other legal principles we use on a daily basis; however, each state has its own statute specifically addressing condominium law. Here, I have gravitated towards those co-workers who do not just respond to questions, but provide me with the tools necessary to find my own answers and hone my skills. This makes me a better person, employee, and colleague.

If you are a condominium board member, have you thought about mentoring the newer members of your board and/or community? Conveying your knowledge and sharing your experiences about the ins and outs of the condominium world, and putting in some additional time and effort, will help your fellow residents flourish. And, who knows, maybe it will lead to fewer problems or arguments within your community in the long run. As a property manager, have you thought about mentoring your co-workers? Management skills are complex and it takes a leader to be effective in management, so mentoring is imperative in this regard.

I hope that someone considers me their mentor someday because I now realize how important a role mentors have played in my life, both individually and collectively. Mentors take the time to get to know the mentee on all levels. This is so important because it helps the person improve upon their own weaknesses in the long run. The bottom line is that mentoring leads to success. Have you thought about being a mentor? Why not take five minutes out of your day and help your successors succeed?

Written by Amie DiGiampaolo adigiampaolo@meeb.com