Finding the right mentor
How do you find a mentor? It is a question that is asked often and there is no one right way to find a mentor.
Ask yourself the question: Why?
The first step is to define why you want a mentor. If you are not clear about what you would like to see out of the relationship it becomes difficult for a mentor to see you as a viable candidate.
Do you want someone to help you with career advice, personal growth, family dynamics, honing your craft or just lend an ear? Answering this question will help you find the right type of person to be your mentor.
Not every mentor is able to guide you in every area of your life. Mentors often help others in areas where they have significant experience.
What do mentors look for?
It is time to do some self-reflection on what you bring to the mentor-mentee relationship
Time is important to mentors and when they give it freely, it is important that the people they select to mentor value the relationship.
Mentors look for many of the same attributes that coaches seek in finding clients that will be successful. Some of those attributes are:
- Innate talent – mentors are not trainers; their purpose is to guide people who have raw skills
- Intense drive to work hard and get ahead, even if it means taking a few detours
- Commitment to stick to it even when it gets tough
- The ability to be introspective and focus on self-improvement
- Ability to set goals and work to achieve them
Why do people become mentors?
They do it because they want to help others and that the mentee is worth the effort.
Mentors have learned their lessons of experience and impart their knowledge hoping to shorten the learning curve or to help others avoid making the same mistakes.
Mentors do not do it because it makes them look good or because it feeds their ego. If you find someone who gets a power trip out of doing it, move on.
What do I do if someone does not want to be my mentor?
Do not take it personally that someone does not want to be your mentor. There are a number of reasons why someone might not want to enter into that type of relationship.
Mentoring takes time. It is quite possible the person is already mentoring a number of people and their capacity to take on more people is limited.
Do you have a relationship with the person? If you are approaching someone who does not know you, don’t be surprised if they decline. It is better to build the relationship first and see if there is chemistry or interest with one another.
Finally, some people do not mentor others; they may have a different approach to helping people. For example, if you are asking someone to do something that is their business or how they make a living, consider if your request is appropriate.
Who is a good mentor for me?
The first thing to do is create a list of people that you believe would make a good mentor.
Once you have a list, identify what kind of relationship you have with them. There are some relationships to avoid because a good mentor will be a neutral party without a vested interest in your choices.
If you find that you have short list of mentor choices, read on.
Where are mentors hiding?
The natural tendency is to look at people who have attained a higher level position in your company as an ideal mentor. If you focus on that as the sole criteria, you will miss out on many other places to find great mentors.
Consider people who may not be obvious. Status, achievement and position are not the only criteria of great mentors.
There are many people who are accomplished on a smaller scale or have done something in their personal life that make them a great mentor. Mentors can be found in communities, schools, universities, churches and social or cultural activities.
Another option is to find someone who has faced the similar challenges in a different business or function. Focusing on lessons that are directly related to your business, craft or current situation may limit what you learn – consider that some of the best lessons are often buried and transferable.
Where have you found your mentor?