Perhaps the most valuable assets in my life are my mentors. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for their amazing encouragement, motivation and wisdom.There are several types of mentors you can have in your personal or professional life. Mentors simply pull you to the place they have already arrived. They encourage you based on the wisdom they have learned from experience and education. Everyone needs a mentor who has already “arrived” at the destination they are headed. If you are in need of a mentor, use these simple steps to help you find one.
Understand your next major step. Mentoring is all about shaping you towards your next step. Before you can find someone to help you get there, you have to be specific about where you are headed. Don’t just consider your long term goals (i.e. become a Grammy award winning musician) Think about what is your next major step is to get you there (i.e. produce your first album) and find the most successful person in your network that has already arrived at place to get you there. You will have a lot better results that way.
Connect to the individual. This is the part that takes skill. More than likely, you want them to mentor you because they have become successful at what you would like to do or become one day. Thus, they are probably very busy. It is important to understand who the person is to make your first connection the most impactful. Research them as much as you can before approaching them. What are their values? What motivates them in life? Have they mentored other people you know? Knowing these things will make connecting to them much smoother. You can then finally contact them. There are three major ways of connecting to potential mentor:
- SERVING: One of the easiest ways of connecting to someone you want to mentor you is serving them. This can be either volunteering to help at their company or organization, doing an internship, or offering something from your vault of value that you have discovered could add value to them. Serving helps you indirectly (and sometimes directly) learn from them. It also allows them to become familiar with you, your work ethic and your personality. Those things could potentially open the door to further relationship.
- THIRD PARTY CONNECTION: The age-old saying, “Is not what you know, but who you know,” is often times more right than wrong. Who do you not only know, but consider passionate about your value and who you are that would be willing to connect you to an individual? Sometimes, a meeting between the three of you to introduce you or an e-mail sent by your third party introducing you to them may be all you need to start the relationship. It is important that the third party accurately communicates the purpose of the introduction, however. Not doing so could lead to false expectations.
- JUST ASK: Sometimes, you are already in the same sphere with the potential mentor that just simply asking them would be appropriate. Judge carefully however. Timing is crucial for this method and so is the relationship you have. Again, remember you are working within their time availability and not your own. Make sure you are clear about your expectations and what you desire from a mentoring relationship to ensure they can properly provide it.
Measure your growth. Once the connection has been made and relationship began, begin to intentionally steward the information gleaned from the mentor. Be proactive in measuring your growth with them and regularly updating them on how what they are teaching you is adding value to your life. Mentors love to know their knowledge is having a tangible impact.
It is also good to be aware when you stop growing from their wisdom. At that point, your relationship may not end with them, but your mentorship probably would. Be honest with yourself and realize when it’s time to move on.
Mentoring relationships can help maximize the potential of what you can become and accelerate your rate of getting there. By actively cultivating these relationships, you as a result cultivate your successfulness at reaching your goals.