If you’re starting off the new year with the resolution of focusing more on you and your career goals, then mentoring could be just what you’re looking for.
I see a mentor as a hybrid between an older sibling, counsellor and tutor. Someone you feel comfortable enough with to share your worries and fears but someone who is able to challenge you and ultimately push you towards your goals
If you look in the dictionary mentoring is defined as “advising or training someone.” Sharing experiences and knowledge with others – or mentoring – is a strategy that our ancestors have been following for centuries and has an accumulative positive affect on all of us. Mentoring not only has the potential to improve ourselves and our lives but also has the potential to improve the lives of those around us.
Sharing knowledge is obviously not a foreign concept, think about school, books, university, podcasts, clubs, courses etc. But mentoring is slightly different in that it’s a personalised, focused exploration of you, your life and your objectives. It’s aimed at helping you become stronger in a specific field, developing coping mechanisms, finding your desires, introducing new routines, managing life obstacles all whilst being guided carefully along the way.
Mentoring can be used to set, track and manage goals, providing you with both the accountability and motivation to enhance your life, career and mental health. So, if you’re looking to better yourself in a specific area of your career and are seeking support along the way, then mentoring could be your answer, here’s why.
Why Get a Mentor?
Mentoring allows you to be led and guided by someone who has taken the same path you wish to walk on, someone who has defeated an obstacle you wish to overcome or who has achieved something you also wish to attain. Personally, I see a mentor as a hybrid between an older sibling, counsellor and tutor. Someone you feel comfortable enough with to share your worries and fears but someone who is able to challenge you and ultimately push you towards your goals.
How Mentoring Can Benefit Performers
Speaking to somebody you look up, who is working in the same field as you is a great help for many aspiring performers as it can offer you a sense of security, gifting you some direction and control within our turbulent industry. Sharing your thoughts with a fellow actor who has years of experience allows you to acquire a deeper understanding of tricky yet unavoidable stresses like coping with rejection, auditions and self-tapes.
Mentoring is Flexible
Sessions can be completely tailored to your needs and ambitions as a performer. Perhaps you want to work on broadening your skillset, expanding your accent directory, improving your showreel or managing a learning difficulty like dyslexia? Or maybe you just want to use the time to talk through your present worries and difficulties that many of us face in this competitive field?
Mentoring can help you develop your communication skills and enable you to make more empowered decisions. Skills developed through mentoring can also teach you resilience required for when things don’t go your way. As an actor, expanding these types of skills is also useful for attracting and securing jobs.
Finding the Right Mentor
The type of mentor you should look for depends on what area(s) of your acting life you want to focus on. Once you have clarified in your head what you want to work on, for example, your confidence, skill set, network, writing etc, you can begin looking for someone who would be a good fit for you.
There’s a wealth of mentors available so take a look online – Spotlight’s Contacts could be a good place to start – or if you already have your heart set on someone you are inspired by, then why not reach out and ask them? Though it’s worth noting that you should find somebody in the industry who is not too distant from you. Think less Emma Stone, more previous graduates from your drama school!
Mentors usually offer a free introductory consultation, allowing you to see if you connect well with them and whether they interpret your ambitions correctly. Remember this is an investment you are making to help create a strong and sustainable career so always make sure you are signing up to the right partnership for you.
Communication and the sharing of experiences are endlessly beneficial. We can learn, develop and succeed from looking to and being led by others. Having been on both sides of the mentorship relationship, I find it to be an incredibly empowering process for both parties. As a mentee, not only does one get to learn and challenge themselves in a safe, supportive yet ultimately strengthening environment but the other mentor gets to help others and share their knowledge to reap greater good.
So this year, why not give it a go and see what it can do for you?
Lauren McCrostie is an actress and writer based in London. Previous acting work includes Tim Burton’s ‘Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children’ and Carol Morley’s ‘The Falling’. Lauren also runs a mentoring service via her website where she helps other actors and dyslexics over 1-2-1 sessions.
Headshot by Faye Thomas.
Main image by Alexis Brown via Unsplash.