Anushil Kumar Discusses Why it is Important for More People to Mentor
Children have an incredible capacity for malleability, adapting to their environment and being heavily influenced by those in it. This is great when children are surrounded by positive role models with valuable life lessons to teach, guiding them down a path to future success.
Not every child is blessed to grow up amid such a backdrop, however. Many do so within toxic environments filled with crime, strife, bad habits, and a complete lack of direction or motivation. In these scenarios, children are more likely to drop out of school, get caught up in the criminal justice system, and generally become a drag on society.
Mentorship can completely change a child’s life says Anushil Kumar, the Vice President of Strategy, Enterprise Architecture and Digital Innovation at Constellation Brands, bringing a guiding light into their lives that can cut through the darkness of misguided direction and low expectations.
And it’s far from just kids that can benefit from such guidance. Mentorship is also a powerful tool in the corporate world, with major companies like 3M, Intel, and General Electric operating mentorship programs that prepare raw recruits for possible future transitions up the company ladder.
Anushil Kumar has experienced firsthand the profound impact that mentoring can have on the lives of at-risk children, volunteering as a mentor for more than a year for Be A Mentor, a California non-profit. And it’s not only the mentees that benefit he says, but the mentors as well.
What it Means to be a Mentor
There are often conflicting ideas about what a mentor’s role is to their protégé. They are sometimes considered life coaches, though Anushil Kumar believes that term is far too sterile to encompass the real tenor of the relationships they build with mentees.
They are a friend first and foremost, and someone who genuinely cares about their mentee and his or her future. But they are more than just a friend, as they also actively seek to enlighten and guide their charges toward a better future, bringing new perspectives and possibilities into their lives.
Mentors also act as confidants and build a deep level of trust with their mentees, providing them with a sounding board to bounce ideas, thoughts, and feelings off without any judgement or criticism coming back. That’s not to say mentors won’t dish out tough love when it’s required but do so to guide rather than hurt.
The Benefits of Mentorship
For mentees, they gain access to the mentor’s network and knowledge, giving them a chance to tap into opportunities they may not otherwise have. More importantly, they develop the confidence and drive to pursue those opportunities when they do become available. Finally, mentees gain the advantage of having the opportunity to connect with new people while working with their mentor.
Mentoring is far from just a one-way street, as the mentors also benefit greatly from the partnership. Not only do they get the immense satisfaction of helping someone else reach their potential, they gain someone they can share their past with and confide in, and who may let them see things from a new perspective.
One of the most powerful effects of mentoring is that it perpetuates a continuous cycle that will carry on for years, expanding to touch the lives of thousands of people. Anushil Kumar states that given their own life-changing experience with mentors, a far greater number of mentees (nearly twice as many) end up becoming mentors themselves compared to the general population, passing the wisdom they were given on to the next generation.