Who is Your Mentor?

“You can overcome any obstacles by asking the right questions of the right people at the right time, then act on that advice with passion.”

~ Dan Surface

Who is Your Mentor?

By Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch

If you don’t have one, consider finding one … and soon.  It is critical to your professional development to have someone who can offer you guidance, insight and perspective.  It’s even great when you can hear their mistakes and learn from them (before you make them yourself).  It’s also wonderful to have a mentor who can answer the question, “if you were me in this situation, what would you do?”

It’s easy to buy into the idea that a mentor is a valuable relationship.  Finding them, however, can be a tricky thing.  And, after identifying them, asking them to mentor you can seem awkward.  So, what do you do?

  • First, scan your horizon and identify the people you admire and respect.  If none are coming to mind, expand your horizon: perhaps it is someone who you work with in a community organization or maybe even a professor you had “way back when.”
  • Next, understand what you hope to get out of the relationship.  Your goal can be as simple as “I look to learn from their experiences.”
  • Then, reach out to them.  You don’t have to get down on one knee and ask them to be your mentor – in fact, the word mentor might not even be brought up in any of your discussions.  Ask them for 30 minutes – 1 hour of their time.  Share that they are someone you respect and you could value learning from their experiences.

When you meet with your mentor, keep these things in mind:

  • Listen more than you talk.  You are there to learn from them.  Invest your time in getting to know them as people.  (For your first few meetings, come very prepared with questions!)
  • If they recommend a book or a reading, or even suggest an idea that you explore, be sure to follow up on their guidance.  You are there to learn from them – if they have ideas, chase after them.

A “thank you” card is a great follow up from your first meeting.  Not only is it a nice touch, it is a great sign of respect.

This article was provided courtesy of Lead Star – a premiere leadership development firm. You can learn more about leadership by visiting their website at www.leadstar.us

Coaching Call To Action

If you are new to the whole idea of mentoring, check out the HBR Guide to Getting the Mentoring You Need.

If mentoring is not new to you, take some time to consider what issues you are facing that could benefit from the wisdom of a mentor.  Then be intentional about your holiday party connections.