Have you ever felt you could do much better in work and life if someone could guide you? When you’re faced with big decisions, would it be useful if there was someone who has lived it before and can provide you the pros and cons of the options before you?
If you’ve answered yes to the questions above, then you could benefit from mentorship.
Firstly, let’s talk about what a mentor is not. A mentor is not:
- A coach whom you pay to guide you through situations
- A counselor who just listens to all your problems
- A person who can give you the right answer every single time
A mentor is a friend who is genuinely invested in your success and is willing to share their experiences and advice to help you succeed.
Study after study has proven that your professional success can be greatly increased under mentorship. A few of the benefits associated to this structured form of guidance are:
- Increased confidence
- Better relationships with the people around you
- Fresh perspectives on work and life
- higher compensation
- increased promotions
Mentors can help you identify opportunities to push yourself out of your comfort zone. There might be a stretch assignment at work that requires you to commit to a few extra hours and take on more responsibility. Normally, you might be tempted to view it as extra work for no immediate reward and grab a beer and relax instead. A wise mentor can help you identify these opportunities and give you a confidence boost to stretch past your current limitations. By doing so, you’ll be able to push yourself to new heights.
Mentorship isn’t a shortcut answer for substituting hard work and focus. Before anyone can help to you, you need to decide what you want. Have a specific goal in mind of what you want to achieve.
- Do you want a raise?
- Do you want a promotion?
- Do you want to work at a different company?
Once you have a clear ask, it will be much easier to determine the right person who will be able to help you. You don’t need to search far, mentors are everywhere. People love to share stories and give back to others. Find someone you know or have met that is doing what you want to be doing in the future or has knowledge/expertise in the area you would like to enter. Strike up a conversation and be curious and ask questions.
“Coffee is the most underutilized business tool of all time.”
Invite mentors out for a coffee so you can pick their brains on a challenge you’re facing. You’ll be surprised how many people accept your offer.
Develop a natural curiosity about what they’re doing and share what you’re doing on a regular basis. Remain in the loop on what they’re doing and ensure you value the friendship that develops.
Be respectful of their time. Prepare specific questions or requests in advance so you can get answers to your questions quickly. In my experience, 80% of the time is spent listening to a mentor’s stories and experiences. I’ve learned a lot of lessons and received great advice this way. The remaining 20% of the time was spent addressing any questions I had. Stay focused during the meeting and take notes if necessary. If they are busy and pressed for time, ask for a phone call instead of meeting for coffee. Be brutally honest when they ask you for your opinion on their challenges. Follow up with them afterwards on how you implemented their advice and share the outcome with them. Think about it this way, if you helped someone by giving them advice, how would you feel if they called/emailed you back and shared a story of what happened? One thing’s for sure. You’ll be excited to help them again, because they not only listen, but they execute as well.
Once you make some headway in this world, start to focus on helping others. It’s never to early or too late to help others succeed. By reflecting and sharing your experience, it will raise your awareness on what got you to where you are today. Mentees bring a fresh perspective and will challenge the way you think.
You can identify potential mentees by looking for the following major indicator:
- People who consistently ask questions about your opinion on how you’d solve a challenge
See how you can help and help them. Giving back and helping others will be one of the most rewarding things you will do.
What are your thoughts on mentorship? Let me know in the comments section below.