Several years ago I needed a mentor to continue in my educational path, so I approached a woman that I knew to be very skilled with many years of experience in my chosen career. She looked me over very shrewdly as she drank a cup of tea and then asked a piercing question, “Do you know what you are asking for dear?” She asked me to describe to her what I thought mentoring was and then she told me what mentoring meant for her. She laid out the ground rules and they were a standard that I have since come to live by. I knew from her instruction what a mentor was and how to follow a chosen mentor. I also learned how to become a mentor that would make a difference in the life of many.
What Is A Mentor?
A mentor is someone who has gone before you and who is willing to share insights on how to overcome during your own personal journey. A mentor is a friend that you trust and one whose advice you value. They are someone who you would follow. They are in life where you want to be and you can see that a relationship with them would help you get closer to your goals and save you from many pitfalls that you would certainly fall into on your own.
Selecting A Mentor
When you select a mentor you should be careful to pick someone who has similar values, so when they ask you to do something you are not continually questioning them. Often the mentor does not have a lot of spare time, and the act of mentoring implies that the one being mentored is there of their own free will having already made the decision to follow. A good mentor realizes that you have free will but as busy, successful people they may not be able to continually over-explain and sometimes one just needs to trust that the mentor has a deeper understanding of the situation and take their advisement.
The mentor that you select should be someone that you respect and admire. It should be someone that you want to listen to and that you aspire to be like. They are not going to be perfect people. Nobody is perfect. In time, you may discover weaknesses in their humanity and you will need to ask yourself if those weaknesses matter to your end goal. Are they things that you can live with? Are they irrelevant to their area of expertise? Or are they something that your own morals won’t allow you to overlook? If a mentoring relationship needs to be severed or adjusted it should be done so with the upmost of care. This is someone who took the time to sow into your life so you want to be honoring to them even if one must eventually take a different road.
How To Receive Mentorship
Successful people may be willing to sow into your life but not if they have to chase you. They are successful because they already know how to value their time. So they will usually require you to go where they go, and to do what they do so you can get a few minutes at a time with them before and after events. Volunteering to be part of their team can gain you the entrance that you need to get their time. Don’t take advantage of your mentor’s time. Respect that they are a professional in their field and that they are therefore in high demand. Others may pay them a lot of money for their counsel so if you are getting any of their time for free or for a small fee realize that this is a privilege. Be on time when you meet them and try to fit your need for their time into their existing schedule as much as possible.
Don’t ask to borrow money or do anything that would affect the mutual trust that you have for each other. This is the last person you should ask to assist you in your drama. Your relationship should not be putting them into a position where they need to rescue you from your own bad management. A mentor is an advisor.
Value their advice and do what they tell you to do. In our democratic society many will take exception to this tidbit but here is the kicker, “Why do you want a mentor if you have no intention of listening to them?” Don’t waste their time with rebellion. If they are not worthy of being followed, then don’t ask them to mentor you in the first place. The whole idea is to accept the guidance of someone who can lead you to success faster than finding the way on your own. A mentor will save you time and money is mistakes that you will make. Learn from them and as you learn to follow you will also become a leader who is worthy of being followed. Someday you will be the mentor and you will be glad for the mentoring that you enjoyed along the way.
Kerry George is the owner of the Canadian Imperial Business Network which is currently the largest business network in Alberta and rapidly expanding across the country. She is a serial entrepreneur/author and speaker with a zest for life and a passion to help others succeed in increasing their potential and their bottom line. Kerry has several publications and blogs that you can follow and welcomes most interaction online.