We live in a society bent on the thought that experience is the best teacher. In reality, some experiences we’ve gone through were totally avoidable and ended with us wasting valuable time and money. Had a mentor been present, we could have easily relied on their experiences and been ushered into another level. In retrospect, we realize that our situations have allowed us to grow and develop further along. My point is that some things could have been just as instructive from someone else’s perspective. In any case, it is evident that mentors are a valued asset as we navigate forward.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, famed philosopher and essayist, once said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Even corporate America has learned to rely on the power of mentoring. Several magazines for entrepreneurs have rave reviews from corporations around the world who are utilizing senior mentors to prepare young executives for leadership. When polled, nearly seven out of ten Fortune 500 companies indicated that they make mentorship programs mandatory. With all the obvious benefits, some still feel apprehensive about finding and approaching potential mentors: What if they refuse? What happens if they say yes? It can be a bit intimidating, to say the least. I want to show you a few tips on how to search out and land a great mentor.
- When searching for a mentor, start by being realistic: Unless you have P.R. reps on speed dial in Hollywood, give up the dream of having a superstar or pro athlete as your personal mentor. You don’t need to find a celebrity. If you look within your industry or school system, you will find viable candidates.
- A mentor is someone who is “doing” what you want to do: The key word is “doing”! Be mindful of people full of zeal to call you their next project. It isn’t rude to do a little research on a potential mentor. Make sure they are more than a “Facebook Phenomena.” These days, there are tons of fakers out there. A mentor is usually found operating in your area of interest.
- When contacting a mentor, remember to keep things professional: Time is a currency successful people never waste. As you reach out to a mentor, drop the emotions and get to the point. If you need a friend, go find one. A mentor isn’t trying to be your buddy or coffee partner. Make and keep scheduled meetings and always honor their time. You don’t want to be a burden.
- Show your mentor you are invested: Once you’ve gained access to a mentor, it is your responsibility to be flexible to their schedule and invest the work to maximize their wisdom. When they suggest books, conferences or resources, get them. This shows you are not looking for handouts and want to advance.
When you speak to those who have obtained greatness, they will quickly identify the presence of a coach or mentor who served as a catalyst for their careers. The bottom line is, you will not get to the top of your industry alone. Often, many individuals have contributed their experience and wisdom as seeds, and we live in the results of the harvest. Embrace the power of mentorship in your life and watch your potential soar.
© 2012, Early L. Jackson. All rights reserved.