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Having a Mentor Doesn't Mean You're Not Smart Enough, It Actually Means the Opposite
We receive many messages from our success-driven society that tell us we need to be independent. We are encouraged to figure things out on our own and sometimes even discouraged from asking others for advice.
While independence, self-education, and personal drive are all admirable qualities, at times we may miss out on opportunities to learn from others who have already achieved success. Finding a great mentor can fill in the gaps and help you achieve more, decrease your stress, and make your journey to success more enjoyable.
Mentor: part role model, part encourager, and part realist.
People in all fields can benefit from having a mentor. A mentor is a person with more experience than you, who can guide you in mastering the key skills you need for your career in a shorter amount of time than you could do on your own.
A good mentor will let you know when you are straying from the best possible course. However, she will also have the wisdom and patience not to just hand out advice or try to control your decisions.
A good mentor has the goal of helping you become self-sufficient and successful in your given field. Even after you master the skills you set out to learn, a mentor can still provide a positive relationship and be a person you can go to if new questions come up.
Mentorship contributes a lot to personal growth.
Everyone involved in a company or organization can experience the benefits of mentoring relationships. The most obvious benefits of mentorship are to the person being mentored. They can gain confidence and experience in a given field or skill, as well as avoid the mistakes they would have made on their own through trial and error.
The person in the role of mentor experiences the satisfaction of contributing to another person’s well being and growth and also builds their own interpersonal skills.1
The benefits of mentoring extend outside of just the mentor to mentee relationship. With a more experienced and knowledgeable person to guide them, the mentee quickly becomes an even stronger asset to the company. Many mistakes are avoided, freeing up positive energy that can go toward fresh ideas and higher productivity.2
To get yourself the best fit, be clear about your own needs first.
- Be honest with yourself about your own needs and personality
- Identify personality types and leadership styles you have worked well with in the past
- Think of professionals you admire in your field that have similar personalities and leadership styles to the ones you just identified
- Make sure your potential mentor is someone you can see/would like to see yourself growing into
Then, identify a list of potential mentors and review each of them.
- Identify several people in your field whose success and personal qualities you admire
- Find out as much as you can about the people you’ve identified before you approach them
- Be sure to choose someone who is happy and well-balanced in their career, not just successful by external factors like wealth and prestige3
- Approach each person and share your desire to learn and grow in your field
- Explain why you chose this particular person in your search for a mentor
- Be prepared to talk to many people before you find the right fit
And remember, having a good mentor is not enough for rapid personal growth.
When looking for a mentor, proactivity and patience are two important skills to have.
The perfect mentor is unlikely to walk into your office one day without any effort on your part. While this may happen in some cases, it is not a safe strategy to rely on. At the same time, finding the right mentor takes time.
The right match may not be the first person you approach or even the second or third. Meeting other professionals and getting comfortable sharing your needs and goals with others is an important part of the process.
Keep taking action each day toward connecting with people you think might be a good fit for you. The more you connect with others and get clear about your goals, the more chance you will have of finding a mentor that can help you take your career to the next level.
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