I’m totally convinced that you need a mentor. Unless you are totally satisfied with your current professional situation, unless you don’t want to improve or you don’t want to get better results, you need a mentor.
In my professional life, I have been studying characteristics of really successful individuals. And I have discovered that one of the common characteristics of successful people is that they have had several mentors in their lives, and they are still being mentored when the have achieved great successes. It’s really useful to have an experienced guide to help you face your most important challenges (or solve your most critical problems).
I have been very lucky in my life because I have had great mentors, who have helped me a lot. Un uncle of mine who was a successful businessman, a university teacher who gave me great advise and empowered my career. People I respected a lot and people I asked for advice every time I had an important decision to take in my professional life. Later on, when I was working in a software company I took part in 2 mentorship programs (for one year and a half each one); it was really great to learn and grow with the help and advice from former top executives in the software industry. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to materialize a mentorship experience. Some of them because they think they don’t need any guide, and others because they don’t dare to ask for advice, or they don’t know how to be mentored by someone.
I give you some ideas if you ever want to have a great mentor relationship:
- Discover what you want to achieve: having a clear vision and translating this vision into a detailed objective will give you clear information about who can be a good mentor for you. Before starting a mentor relationship, you must be clear of who you are… but specially who you want to become. And remember the Zen quote “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.
- Find a mentor that fits you: it’s not easy to find the right mentor. So, it’s important to learn as much as possible before investing in a mentor relationship. It’s necessary to have a good personal fit. I mean, your mentor must have the knowledge and experience needed to guide you in your professional challenge. But it is also important that you have a good emotional fit, let’s say, that you connect emotionally and both of you feel comfortable working together. If you don’t have a good professional and emotional fit it will be difficult you get a good mentor experience.
- Get the most out of the meetings with your mentor: usually, the time to meet the mentor is limited. Make the most out of it. Prepare every meeting with detail. Do your homework, follow his/her instructions… so take it seriously. Having a great mentor is a great experience, so take the maximum profit (and making the best use of the time you spend together).
- Think in how you can help your mentor: all mentors want their mentees to grow and develop personally and professionally. But a part of giving them this satisfaction, think in imaginative ways in how you can give back to your mentor. Sometimes it’s so easy to say thank you. You can also recommend her/him to other professional… or even you can help in other ways such as putting her/him in contact with a person, giving valuable information about the situation in your sector…
- Keep in touch with your mentor once the mentor relationship is finished: it’s great to maintain long term relationships. Most of the mentors will appreciate your future contacts informing them about your professional successes, new challenges you are facing… They’ll probably be connected with it and feel proud of what you get. And depending on the relation you have, you can become friends
- Use mastermind group: for some of you that don’t dare to look for mentors or you don’t know how to start a mentor relationship, you can try to take part in a mastermind group. Mastermind is a term coined in 1925 by Napoleon Hill in his book The Law of Success and later described in more detail in his book Think and Grow Rich (1937). It’s a group of people (basically peer-to-peer) who meet periodically with the objective of solving their problems or challenges with the input and advice form other members of the group. It’s a wonderful experience when done right. It can be another way to be mentored.
- Be yourself a mentor: receiving help by experienced professional is great. But in my opinion, it’s even greater mentoring other people. Helping them with your experience and knowledge. You can enjoy and learn a lot. And you can also have a nice impact in other people’s life. In this sense, one of the best advises ever is from Steven Spielberg “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves”. Why don’t you consider the possibility of being a mentor?
All of us need a good mentor. Because as John C. Maxwell said “One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination”.