Mentoring is a tricky thing: most people want it, but don’t know how to get it. Mentoring is also loosely defined. Just because someone gives you advice, doesn’t mean they are your mentor. Mentoring is a responsibility; a commitment that requires valuable time and focused attention to assure the mentee’s goals are progressing forward. If you have one steady mentor that is adding value to your career and life, you’re fortunate. Although finding a mentor is difficult and making it work is even more challenging – the rewards are abundant.
Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. When someone outside of your immediate family depends on you for advice, wisdom and know-how – it comes with tremendous responsibility. They depend on you and watch your every more. They are curious and feel connected to you. The more I mentor, I realize this relationship is more serious than most think – especially given the uncertainty and lack of trust that clouds our society. How you find a mentor, reaping its rewards and paying it forward represents the many facets of this relationship.
Once you know what you want from a mentor, you can begin your search. Much like you match job opportunities with your qualifications, you must do the same with a mentor. Only you know what your goals, desires, dreams and aspirations are and what type of person can help you get there. Commit yourself to the search and don’t get distracted. While I realize that finding a mentor can happen serendipitously – you must create the opportunity. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you are stuck:
Do I associate myself with the right people? Do they add-value to my career?
Do I belong to the right networking groups? Am I challenging myself or do I just go with the flow?
How did my colleagues find their mentors?
What did it feel like the last time I had a boss who invested in my growth and who helped me figure things out?
These questions will help calibrate your thinking and get you on the right track. Be committed and take your time. Understand why a mentor would be important for you and equally begin to think what value you can add to this relationship.
Mentors do not have to be from the same industry, gender or generation. Open your mind to new possibilities by working outside of your comfort zone.
Now that you know your needs and what you can bring to the table, begin to explore where your mentor can be found. For example, I also needed to find a person or two that had experienced what it meant to be a thought-leader. I decided to invest and attend a conference where a notable thought-leader (whose story was similar to mine) was delivering a keynote. After his speech, he offered the following to the audience of 500 people, “If you need any help in your journey – I will give you my card if you send me a one-sentence overview that tells me how you think I can help you.” I was 1 of roughly 100 people that obtained his card. As I found out later, I was one of only 11 people that sent him an email that was clear, focused and responsible.
You must invest in yourself to find the right mentor. Know your needs and how someone can serve in this capacity. You must be honest with yourself. Learn to be vulnerable.
To this day, I look for people that I know will be a tremendous mentor. They teach me many lessons about mentoring. My top lesson: be accountable to yourself and others that can benefit from the lessons learned. In other words, don’t be selfish – and share your hard work and progress. Your mentor is not a “shrink” – they are someone who is helping you progress forward in your career. Be mindful that your mentor is monitoring your progress and when you slip, they begin to reevaluate the time they commit to this precious relationship.
While no book list can be exhaustive … rather … the below list is meant as a starting point until you find a mentor to recommend and discuss books with you. The following is a great list of books to read and own. Most are available through Amazon.com. Happy Reading!
Law of Success | Napoleon Hill
Think and Grow Rich | Napoleon Hill
How To Win Friends and Influence People | Dale Carnegie
See You Over the Top! | Zig Ziglar
Secrets To Closing The Sale! | Zig Ziglar
Releasing Your Potential | Myles Monroe, Ph.D.
Awaken the Giant Within | Anthony Robbins
Live Your Dreams | Les Brown
You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought | Peter McWilliams
The Magic of Thinking Big | David J. Schwartz, Ph.D
Presentations Plus | David A. Peoples
The Greatest Salesman in the World | Og Mandino
Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway | Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.
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