4 Success-Secrets to Finding a Powerful Mentor
It is easy to find yourself lost in the corporate circles of hell drowning without a lifejacket, grasping onto titles, salaries, upgraded cubicles, office credenzas, and benefits to preserve your dignity. Clutching your resume in your free hand, trying your best not to slip into the unemployed underground, you constantly and consciously must choose your next move before someone else does it for you. And you are not alone.
January is National Mentorship month. The power of mentorship--someone who has been-there-done-that-bought-the-t shirt-and-uses-it-to-dust and can sort of show you the ropes--is invaluable. It really takes a village to help a person navigate the ins and outs of different industries, possible career opportunities, and to rethink or reimagine the challenges we sometimes face in business. Think about how many times in your career when you wish you had someone who could relate to what you were going through. Having a mentor to guide you through the corporate wasteland is imperative (beard and wooden staff optional).
How to find one.
If you haven’t had a mentor yet in your career or in your business, it may be challenging to figure out where to start now that you realize you would like one. How do you identify someone as a potential mentor? For one, your mentor is not the same as a teacher, parent, or friend. While we are at it, social media also does not qualify as mentorship (i.e. “I hate my job. My boss sucks. I want to quit. Like if you agree.”) First, start by asking yourself: What has been stopping you from asking for the help you desire? Avoidance (Power Level 1)? Fear (Power Level 2)? Complacency or compromise (Power Level 3)?
Identify what is important to you—What are your values as they relate to your career and business aspirations? Which areas of your professional performance are your strengths? Which areas are you looking to build upon? Choosing a mentor who has ideals and values that align with yours and who has the professional strengths or experiences you wish to emulate could be a model mentor for you. Understand your goals and be clear about your expectations. Think of it as finding the right balance between who you are and who you plan to be.
Available time—Your mentor may be someone you already spend a good deal of time with, but if this is not the case, you will want to find someone who can spend a reasonable amount of time helping you work on your goals. Defining what this looks like upfront will be a necessary part of pouring the mentorship foundation. Your mentor’s time investment is only going to be a fraction of the time you are willing to commit to helping yourself, so be flexible.
Someone you feel you can trust—Not like a friend, spouse, or parent—more like a doctor or an attorney. Your mentor will be your trusted advisor and likely a specialist in some area that will directly assist you in achieving your goals. Look within your network and hone in on people you respect and relate to, even if you don’t know them closely. This is a relationship that will likely expand over time; develop an impactful rapport. Mentor relationships are also like potato chips: who can have just one? You may find multiple people with varying skillsets that you can grow on.
Someone who focuses evenly on the good, bad and ugly—In other words, you don’t need another naysayer. An effective mentor will help you to see all the opportunities around you. You don’t want someone whose personal experiences color the judgment of how he or she views yours. Your mentor should not get caught up in the drama of your story or be attached to the outcome. The best mentor for you need not be perfect to be wonderful! An effective mentor will be objective, able to give you different perspectives on your challenges, brainstorm ideas for how you can proceed, and will celebrate your successes with you.
How to be one.
Remember every person has something, some wisdom to offer the world, so be open and be curious. You are always the student and the teacher. Your experiences will be valuable lessons to your mentee. However, careful not to relive your experiences vicariously through your mentee. The best way to be a mentor to someone else is to help them become more of who they already are. Help them to see the possibilities and opportunities within themselves. Just remember, when you are the mentor, it’s not about you—it’s all about the other person. The benefits of nurturing them will be intrinsic and universal for you. You are a success advocate!