Having a mentor can be critical to your success in business and in life.
I was reading an article on keys to success in life. The author suggested several such has having a mastermind group, keeping a journal, a pocket notebook, discipline and having a mentor. In the comments section one person pointed out the value of a mentor, a statement that made me think.
Mentors can help you craft the type of life you want to have, be it just for work or one with a good balance. Mentors are generally older and have been around the block a few times. They can provide sound advice, guidance and direction, be it in your business, your profession, your sport, or your personal life. They can offer a perspective that is different and broader than yours. In some situations they can also become a friend and confidant.
The one thing that really struck me however, was a comment made by a reader. That person said that they found that having a mentor instilled in them the discipline to get things done. There was an accountability to their mentor that drove them to want to achieve goals and accomplish tasks that they had not had prior to having a mentor. I think it is this accountability that is one of the greatest values of having a mentor.
Choosing a mentor
Unfortunately I have not had an “in-person” mentor in my life. I have chosen my mentors from the many authors I read. However, Brett and Kate McKay offered a great list that I will borrow from. Here are seven steps to selecting a mentor.
- Determine what sort of mentor you are looking for. Most of think of a mentor as being in a business situation, but it doesn’t have to be. You can look for a mentor in many different aspects of life. You just have to decide what you are trying to accomplish.
- Draw up a list of three people you would like to have mentor you. Who have you admired? Who has inspired you? Who do you respect? Have they been successful in the endeavor you which to improve yourself in?
- Write down how each of these people could help you grow. What is it in this person’s background that makes you think they could help you grow in the way you want to grow? Have they had unique achievements or have they overcome setbacks similar to ones you face?
- Figure out and write down what you expect to get from the relationship. How much interaction do you want? What type of interaction do you want? Pay attention to their schedules and respect their abilities to deliver.
- Ask the first person on the list. Find the right method of communication. Tell your prospective mentor that you are looking for a mentor to help guide you with “X” and that you think they would be a great person to learn from. Give them and idea of what would be expected of them.
- Be prepared for rejection. Not everyone is attracted to providing advice and guidance, so it is very possible you will be turned down. Don’t take it personally. It may take some time for them to warm up to the idea and you may have to spend more time around them before they will consent. But some will not budge. In that case you move on to the next person on your list.
- Always say “Thank you.” You never want to burn a bridge by being discourteous. Thank the ones that say ‘no’ and thank the ones that say ‘yes” with equal appreciation.
Mentor does not necessarily mean older
Having someone as a mentor does not necessarily mean they are older than you. It just means they have their sh*t together better than you do. It also does not mean they have to be the same sex as you. There is a lot to be learned in a variety of jobs and professions by being mentored by the opposite sex. Life situations may be a bit different as I am sure you understand.
You may not be able to get a mentor right away. You have to be perceived as someone worth investing some time in. So if you are a slacker you are going to show that you have some value to someone in order to get accepted. That person is going to be investing time and effort in you and they will want an acceptable pay back. After all that is what probably made them attractive to you in the first place.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
About the Author:
Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, writer, speaker and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. He has been in the field of HR for 30 years as both practitioner and consultant. He specializes in compliance issues for his small business clients. He is the author of the blog HR Observations which can be found at www.omegahrsolutions.com and he has been writing blog posts on a full spectrum of HR topics for over seven years. He is an active user of Twitter and can be found at @mikehaberman or @HRComplianceGuy.