No matter how old you are, or where you are in your career, or what stage of life you are in, there is something you always need to have and be!
What is that something?
I recently got back from spending time with my speaking mentor and am lit up about how valuable this relationship is.
I share here tips on finding a mentor, cultivating a relationship with that person, and becoming a mentor to others.
Who Is A Mentor?
A mentor is defined as “an experienced and trusted adviser,” but I believe that definition is missing a lot.
A mentor is also a confidant, an ally, a cheerleader, a blind spot illuminator, a coach, and a soulmate (because I believe soulmates are people with whom we have divine appointments to learn from; they are not just romantic partners).
I have been blessed to have incredible mentors in my life, from whom I have learned things that no book or online program could have ever taught me. Whenever I want to raise the level of an area in my life, I seek out a mentor.
How Do I Find My Mentor?
How do you identify and cultivate a relationship with a mentor? Here are a few tips:
1. Find Someone Elder In Years And Experience
Seek out someone who is a good decade ahead of you in terms of age or experience. Peers are great to bounce ideas off of but not the best mentors.
2. Align Your Values
Look for someone who is not only doing what you want to be doing, but also living the way you want to be living. Making sure your values align is an important part of a mentoring relationship.
There are a lot of people out there who may have achieved something you want to achieve but the way they went about it may not jibe with your values and lifestyle.
3. Take And Give Back
Be conscious of creating from the start a mutually beneficial relationship. Being mentored is about learning and growing, not just taking. Consider what you can offer in return.
Granted, you may have less experience and knowledge, but there is always something you can give. Healthy relationships are a two-way street.
4. Make Specific Requests
Be specific in terms of what you are requesting. Rather than saying, “Will you mentor me?” come up with a detailed request such as, “I have a project I am working on, and my request is one hour of your time to review it with you.”
That is your entry point, then you can cultivate a deeper relationship from there. Just asking someone to be your mentor is vague and puts a lot of expectation on that person.
And please for the love of chocolate, DO NOT ask to “pick their brain.” That is such a pet peeve of mine — forgive my venting. People don’t want their brains picked, ew.
5. Feel Free To Ask
Just ask! You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. I believe that people really do want to help people and, most of the time, are flattered to be asked.
6. Develop A Rapport
Do not put your mentor on a pedestal. Yes, respect them. But do not be intimidated to the point that you are not honest — they can’t help you if you pretend.
Allow yourself to ask what you may judge as stupid questions. And open your heart. Create a connection. Mentors make incredible friends too.
Can I Too Be A Mentor?
Just as important as having a mentor is being one. We all have things to share, teach, and contribute. Just because you are younger or not super-advanced in your career does not mean you do not have incredible wisdom and love to share.
Put yourself out there to mentor others. A great way to do that is to sign up for a volunteer mentoring program.
And to the parents out there, your fellow mothers and fathers are dying for your mentorship! Please know how valuable what you have learned from being a parent is.
Remember, we are not here to figure everything out on our own or just connect with our close circle of family and friends. Broaden your horizons. Seek out people to teach you and whom you can teach.