When it comes to lining up a mentor, here’s what you need to understand. And what you need to do to achieve meaningful growth in your career.
Do your homework. Get to know who they are before you ask. Find out as much as you can to see how your passion and purpose aligns with what the potential mentor has accomplished. You need to understand them not just as a name and title, but as a human being.
Understand relationships. If you think that a mentor is going to be a one-way pipeline to secret wisdom about your chosen field, think again. A strong bond with a mentor is not transactional, it’s relational. That’s why it is meaningful, and has a better chance to last over time, as the mentee becomes a mentor and you are peers helping one another.
Drill down on what you really want. Don’t ask for mentoring if you really want something else. Is it a job? Ask for advice. That’s an easy get. It’s not an ongoing commitment, and if you have authentic curiosity and openness, that could lay the groundwork for mentoring eventually.
Don’t miss what’s in front of you right now. I believe mentors are everywhere– from the people who you work for to the ones who work for you, a fitness instructor, a husband, your father or mother, a neighbor, even a clerk checking you out at the grocery store. To me it’s about little moments that happen daily. If we are open and curious, we can be mentored constantly.
I love my husband, but if he had asked me to marry him right when we met or before we had built a meaningful relationship, I would have run the other way – fast. A good mentor relationship is similar. It starts with a connection then expands with time.
Don’t ask; give instead. If you remember nothing else, remember this: The one thing that you and a mentor have in common is the same amount of time in a day or week. The mentor’s knowledge and experience means that their time is at even more of a premium.
Yes, mentors are generous, but they don’t exist only to mentor; their purpose is their priority, and they frame their time and relationships (including mentoring) around their purpose.
When a potential mentee understands my purpose and finds connection in authentic ways, that person is stepping into the role of mentee. They aren’t detracting to my mission; they show me that they already understand my core philosophy and want to support my “regularly scheduled programming.”
High achievers eliminate distractions from their work, and know that mentoring can rob them of time and bring undue pressure and expectations. A mentee should aim to gain access to the work being done and learn by observing or helping. Don’t ask. Be clear about your intentions and bring value to the relationship, and step into that role now.
Don’t ask. Just start by serving, connecting and you might just wake up with a mentor.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Your most effective, efficient mentoring relationship is driven 100 percent by you. Your preparation, drive and nurturing. Don’t expect someone to lean in to be your mentor—you must lean in to get one. Don’t ask me to be your mentor; be that person right now.
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. Molly Fletcher helps inspire and equip game changers to dream, live and grow fearlessly. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working with elite athletes and coaches as a sports agent, and applies them to the business world. Her book, Fearless At Work, is available, and sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter.