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The wind beneath our wings: Angels and Mentors

“You are only as good as the company you keep.” I’m not sure who said this, but it is a concept that I ponder occasionally.

Are those in my inner circle people who lift me up? Who push me to be my best self? Who step forward to remind me of what makes me special when I’m having a rough day?

I know from experience that having angels and mentors in your corner is essential for personal and professional growth. Think of them as your own personal cheerleading squad!

My angels and mentors are those people who offer support and encouragement. They are invested in my success, give me a helping hand when needed, inspire me to set stretch goals, and celebrate my wins. Now for me, angels and mentors are two different things.

My angels are those folks in my world who, for whatever reason, are 100% on my cheering squad. They believe in who I am as an individual, as a businessperson, as a mother, and as a friend. They want to me succeed and they are there to help when I ask for it (and sometimes when I don’t if they see me struggling). They may invest time, money, or energy to help me achieve my personal and my professional goals. These folks are my biggest cheerleaders.

My mentors play a slightly different role. These are the folks who I look to because I have something I can learn from them. They have expertise and connections that they use to help me grow my personal network and my own skill set. They are my sounding board when I have ideas that I need to make sure are grounded in reality; they challenge me to think about things differently, to shift my perspectives, and to innovate. My mentors ask hard questions and hold me accountable to achieving what I set out to do. And they have expectations of me that may exceed my own expectations.

In the business community, we hear about connecting with our tribe. Our angels are in the innermost circle of this tribe. They are the folks that we trust fully to have our backs and to give us a hand up when we are struggling.

Now our mentors, they may be in the innermost circle, or they may not be. In my experience mentors can play either a formal or informal role in our daily work and lives.

For example I have mentors who probably don’t know that they are my mentors. They probably don’t know that they inspire me to be my best self simply through the example that they set. I learn from these informal mentors ALL the time and I work hard to imitate those perspectives, approaches, and actions that I most appreciate about them. Our relationship may well be arms length – but still they inspire me to do better.

On the other hand, I have mentors who play a very clear mentorship role in my world. These are folks that I meet with regularly to discuss my business life (and personal life, in some cases) with, to test ideas and approaches, to ask for specific help with specific activities, and to create opportunities for personal and professional goals. These relationships are more formal, and generally follow a more structured framework, with regular meetings and email exchanges.

Both my informal and formal mentors are important for me. And my angels and mentors come from all walks of life; are all different ages; work in diverse industries; live locally and internationally.

They inspire me and are the core of my tribe – whether they know it or not. To quote Bette Midler songthey are the” wind beneath my wings.” It’s great knowing that they are in my corner, ready to support.

Who are your angels and mentors? How do they currently support you? What type of support do you wish that your angels and mentors could provide that you currently don’t have access to? Where (and from whom) might you find this type of support?

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