- October 20, 2016
- Posted by: toperunsewe
- Category: Success Tips
The tradition of having someone to support you with his or her wisdom and experience is probably as old as the human race. In any tribal society, younger members depended upon the older members to pass on their hard-won knowledge and insight about how to stay safe, find food and shelter, and understand the world around them.
So, finding and having a mentor isn’t just a modern fad; it’s a time-honored practice that has served us well for many thousands of years. And as with most things, there are good mentors and there are not-so-good mentors. What can you do to make sure you’re getting one of the good ones?
- Focus on integrity.
If you’re brave enough to ask your mentor for advice, he or she needs to be brave enough to give you a straight answer. Choose someone to pattern yourself after who has impeccable integrity. Then watch how they manage challenging situations, tough conversations and setbacks. Integrity is very important factor to look out for in finding a mentor.
- Pick someone who shares your values. Values are a person’s “default positions” when no one is watching. They’re usually most evident in how we spend our time, our money and our mental energy. They’re hard to change, so pick someone who naturally overlaps with you. In a good mentor relationship, you need to be able to be honest about your own life and circumstances – and you need to be confident that your revelations won’t go beyond your mentor. If he or she can’t be trusted to keep confidences, your relationship will be superficial at best – damaging at worst.
- Generosity of Spirit:
This is essential. A great mentor wants you to succeed, and he or she will actively support your success with words and action. The great mentor will never be envious or feel threatened by your growth; he or she will congratulate you on your triumphs and help you recover from your setbacks. The generous mentor will make connections or offer resources that could be useful to you whenever he or she can. Most important, a generous mentor believes in your potential, and communicates that to you freely and with hope. The generous mentor supports you to become the person you want to become.
- Look for a listener. Many people listen only to gather their own thoughts and to prepare their own reactions. Great mentors tend to be people who listen to understand. They ask follow-up questions and they make sure they’ve understood before they react.
- Seek someone with a network. Networks take a lifetime to build. And if you’ve found a mentor who has adopted your career interests as his or her own, you’ll be introduced to a world of contacts it would otherwise take you years to develop. If you’re given the gift of a warm introduction, don’t blow it – respect the gift.
- Choose an optimist. They tend to get more done, have deeper relationships and be more reliable when the going gets tough. Plus, optimists tend to be cheerleaders – a key trait in finding the perfect mentor. If you find one of these, it’ll remind you of your mom – the one person in the world who believed in you during your darkest moments.
- Don’t be put off by straight talk. Look for someone who’ll give you feedback. If you buy the idea that feedback is the breakfast of champions, your best mentors will be the people who pull you aside and tell you what you need to hear – even when you don’t want to hear it.
- Curiosity: This one may seem counter-intuitive – isn’t it the mentee’s responsibility to be curious about the mentor? Yes. And…if the mentor isn’t curious about you: who you are, how you’re wired, what’s important to you, what you’ve done so far and how it’s working for you – it’s unlikely his or her advice will be very helpful. It will more likely be generic wisdom that won’t be targeted to you at all.