How to choose your Mentors

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One question that many young people will ask at some point in their career is; “how do I choose a mentor”? Unlike your biological parents where you had no choice in their selection, choosing a mentor is the prerogative of the mentee. The choice of a mentor will therefore depend a lot on the clarity of purpose of the mentee.

In Greek mythology, “Mentor” was the name of the Odysseus’s trusted friend who was charged with the responsibility of raising his son while Odysseus was away on his travels. It can therefore be inferred that a Mentor is a trusted guide, whose role is to teach from the light of his or her own experience.

Not only does a mentor teach, but he or she is also expected to model ideal behavior. That is why they are a sort of role model.

To put this in context, a mentor is a person with specialized knowledge whom you may enlist to educate and motivate you, either in your personal life, your career or both. They provide guidance to less-experienced people through the learning process by establishing trust and modeling positive behaviors.

If you are keen to achieve new levels of success in your career or business, then you should consider having one.

Why you need a mentor?

Mentors expand your network and open doors to new opportunities.

This is my most favorite part of working with a mentor. They offer to share their network connections with their trusted mentees. Through mentorship, mentees can expand their network and gain access to other people in various ways.

Alternatively, a mentor may introduce a mentee to one or two key individuals to help with the mentee’s career development or goals. This further increases the mentee’s confidence because they can get out of their comfort zone, develop their soft skills, and gain access to new opportunities as they meet new people.

Mentors offer invaluable tacit knowledge and guidance (for free).

With more work experience, mentors are in the ideal position to offer insight for mentees. They hold valuable knowledge that can be crucial in helping a mentee uncover opportunities and solve problems. Mentors can guide a mentee by providing instructions on how to do specific tasks or acquire useful skills. They can also share tips on overcoming obstacles or challenges to career development.

This kind of mentoring relies on the vast experience of the mentor. It’s a kind of guidance the mentee can’t find anywhere else. In a workplace, having a mentor who’s a senior executive is an incredible opportunity because they can shed light on the inner workings of the organization that helps you get ahead. In short, they know who’s-who and what’s-what, and they’ll share that with the mentee.

This is my second best reason for having a mentor.

New Perspective

Working with a mentor is life-changing because it helps mentees understand who they are and what they want to become. Mentors often provide a different perspective to mentees career journey allowing them to see the big picture. While mentors are not therapists, they help promote feelings of awareness and discovery that only come through conscious effort.

Mentors hold you accountable to achieve your goals.

By defining goals and creating smaller steps to get there, mentors help focus mentees on what they need to do to advance their careers. These goals are also a way to measure the success of the mentorship.

Without goals, a mentee has no direction and no plan to get where they want to go. A mentor helps keep them on track and accountable for achieving their goals. They provide the motivation needed for mentees to work at attaining their goals.

Unbiased Opinion.

Because mentors play a neutral role in mentees life, they have the ability to give unbiased opinions on subjects they care about. For example, if a mentee has several ideas for a business venture but needs help choosing the best option, mentors are great resources for advice.

Drawing on their past experiences, mentors provide opinions that they believe fits the circumstance best.

– Personal Growth.

Mentors look for ways to encourage personal growth. Once mentees are aware of their skills and abilities, they may put them to work on a specific task to see how well they perform. Based on performance, they might give mentees another challenge to test or give detailed feedback on what they did well and what to improve on. Mentors look for teaching moments that help mentees grow along the way.

– Mentors raise your confidence and problem-solving abilities.

Along with developing leadership skills, having a mentor to advise and guide you can increase your confidence and help develop problem-solving skills. Regarding confidence, research has tied having a mentor to an overall increase in emotional health.

Mentors offer a different perspective that can be instrumental in changing bad habits or unhelpful ways of thinking. The result of this is an increase in wellbeing and confidence. Likewise, mentors can serve as a sounding board for mentees to test ideas out. This leads to a better ability to problem solve.

It is important to note that the relationship between a mentor and a mentee must be built upon trust, honesty and transparency. When you need someone you can trust, having a mentor as an objective third-party is a great resource. Mentors work to earn your trust in a variety of ways that include showing up to appointments on time, listening to your stories and keeping your information confidential.

A mentor is not easy to find in the first place, and not easy to “maintain” throughout your career, so how do you choose a mentor and ensure that they are the right one for you?

Here are my suggestions for finding a mentor and making the right choice:

1) Choose someone you really admire.

Regardless of gender (though I would probably suggest finding a mentor of your gender), your mentor must have a private life and career that inspires you. There is no better person to ask advice from than someone who’s already done what you want to do and can tell you how to get there.

2) Choose someone who has the right network.

A mentor should put you in contact with other helpful people from their entourage. If you want to work in the entertainment industry, for example, choose a mentor who has worked or still works in that field, and can introduce you to other contacts in that area. Keep a sharp focus on what you want to achieve.

3) Choose someone you can laugh with.

Mentors need to inspire you and make you feel comfortable in your conversations, which can often be very personal. A mentor should give you the best advice in the hardest moments of your life, when you have to decide between one route and another. You need to feel very relaxed in the conversation, whether via WhatsApp, email, phone or in person.

4) Choose someone who believes in you.

Your mentor is there to support you, reminding you what counts in life, how strong and powerful you are, and how to leverage your own strengths. Your mentor is your biggest fan and wants you to succeed. Your success is your mentor’s success too.

5) Don’t be afraid to approach someone you haven’t met yet to ask him/her to become your mentor.

If there is someone who you think could become your personal guide, don’t be afraid to approach this person. If you need an introduction, let someone introduce you to him/her. If you don’t have anybody, don’t be afraid to reach out via LinkedIn, email, or Facebook.

If this person is right, he/she will get back to you. Otherwise, don’t worry; there are plenty of people out there who are ready to give support and help in their spare time.

6) Choose someone who is approachable and positive.

You need someone you feel could be your friend, and who you would enjoy going out for dinner with. A mentor is available for a talk, is open, and doesn’t behave like he/she is too senior to spend time with. Otherwise, they are no real help to you.

7) Choose more than one mentor if needed.

I would actually recommend having two or, better yet, three different mentors, with different backgrounds and approaches to life and careers. When in doubt about a choice, confronting their different suggestions could make you broaden your perspective, perceptions, and options—giving you better insight into what to do.

Where to find a mentor?

Don’t look to your direct manager!

The role of your manager or supervisor is to make sure that the team meets its goals. They’re like a coach in a way. But they are not entirely focused on your career journey. Your boss may play a key role in your development, but it’s best to seek a third party for mentorship. It gives you a different perspective that can be beneficial.

For that reason, it’s important to separate the two and understand the difference between mentorship and coaching.

Finally, you can’t select a mentor without letting them know that you desire to be their mentee. It can’t be inferred or assumed. 

A conversation with this individual is key as they need to create time in their busy schedule for you.

Dear friend, take charge of your life, be bold, be intentional, be decisive and take initiative. The time is NOW!

I hope these suggestions are helpful for you in choosing your mentor or mentors.

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8 thoughts on “How to choose your Mentors”

  1. For me, do we have completeness in man? No. Each has strenght and weakness. Reason one must weigh individuals rightly to choose a mentor wisely.

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