KNOWLEDGE Article by: Mac Anderson

NOTHING BOOSTS your self-confidence or nurtures your positive attitude more than a mentor. And remember this … you’re never too old or too young to have one.

The ability to find and benefit from a mentor is one of the key lessons to be drawn from the extraordinary life of Eleanor Roosevelt. As Robin Gerber, author of Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way, explains: Great mentors “will not only lead you on your future professional path but also help you to realize your full potential — spiritually, mentally, emotionally.”

Eleanor did not have a happy childhood. After losing her parents at a young age, she had no one to show her any respect or affection. And because she was unattractive and lacked certain social graces, her own family members — not to mention other children — insulted and ridiculed her.

Ordinarily such a childhood would lead to lack of self-esteem and confidence. Nothing, as we all know, was further from the truth. She was not afraid to fly in the face of convention, to do exactly as she pleased with the whole world watching. How did the shy, unattractive girl become the smiling, confident Eleanor Roosevelt?

Much of the success of this great woman has to do with another woman — a mentor she met in boarding school. Marie Souvestre was the French headmistress of the English boarding school to which Roosevelt was sent when she was 15 years old. Instead of laughing at Roosevelt, Souvestre encouraged and complimented Eleanor on her intellect, her proficiency in the French language, and her attitude toward the other girls. Slowly, Souvestre built up Eleanor’s confidence, in essence creating the young woman who later would take on the world.

Ask yourself who could make a positive difference in your life. When faced with difficult choices or challenges, to whom could you turn for guidance? The answer might not come to you immediately, and that’s probably for the best. What I would suggest is that you go through your address books and make a list of candidates. List the strengths and weaknesses of each person, and rank potential mentors in the order of preference. At that point, I’d arrange a lunch with your top choice (or send a letter) to gauge that person’s interest. You might be surprised at how flattered some people are that you asked; however, if a mentoring relationship doesn’t work out, move to your second choice. I’ve always lived by the “nothing ventured, nothing gained” theory, and selecting a mentor is one place to put it to the test.

I also suggest you read books specifically about mentoring relationship, but for now I hope I’ve helped you take that first step. The right mentor can change your life in many positive ways.

Learn more about Mac Anderson, founder of Successories and author of the Simple Truths book series.