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5 Reasons Why You Need A Mentor

5 Reasons Why You Need A Mentor

 “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton

In the words of Sir Isaac Newton, mentors extend vision, enable proteges to attain greater heights. In short, mentors provide undeniable counsel and resources that are not necessarily or readily available or accessible. One of the key realities on our journey is the fact that you will discover that you can not ‘do,’ ‘go’ or ‘be’ all you can be all by yourself. You will eventually need people and people will need you. Invariably, you will discover that no one is an island and our interconnections is an obvious reality that reminds me of the popular adage on vacuums. It is true that no one can exist or succeed in a vacuum. Each one of us will require other people’s help, support, insight, feedback, and resources at one point on our journey.

Coincidentally, the value of mentoring goes beyond oneself. It is a gift that keeps on giving and I am reminded of this scripture that says, “in the multitude of counselors (mentoring) there is safety.” I truly believe that!

Great Mentors Must Have These Attributes

Great mentors provide intangible resources and vital tools not readily available or accessible due to their experience, access, and vintage point. In my humble opinion, great mentors are the proverbial ‘wind’ beneath one’s wings.

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I have had the good fortune of good mentorship and have observed the effect of great mentoring on the community.

Here are some undeniable attributes of great mentors:

  1. Great mentors show interest in your success
  2. Great mentors are vested in your success
  3. Great mentors are aligned with your best interest
  4. Great mentors focus on helping you be the best you can be
  5. Great mentors do not compete with you but rather complement you
  6. Great mentors are not afraid of your successes or threatened by them

Here are 5 reasons why you need a mentor:

Mentors Coach

Mentors coach and prepare you for change.

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The economy of the new workforce does not operate solely on hard work but rather on smart work. You need to get smarter about people, relationships, processes, opportunities, and strategies. Great mentors help you get smarter with their wise counsel.

Mentors Motivate

Mentors fine tune and transform your vision.

They provide ideas, thoughts and insights that challenge and enable you to see beyond your sphere of influence. Mentors amplify visions by elevating your thinking capabilities. Mentors elevate you by making their shoulders your platform. They prop you up and this demonstration of trust must not be abused as their extensions is a critical validation that will eventually open doors and grant you access to opportunities beyond your circle.

Mentors Challenge

Mentors push you to go farther.

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They refuse to let you settle on your oars and invariably challenge you to go farther than you can possibly imagine. They pat you on the back for your successes, guide you in extracting lessons from your failures and by so doing push you far.

Mentors Protect

Mentors protect you from missteps.

Mentors protect and nurture their proteges from premature exposure. They provide insights on how to navigate political landmines in organizations and how to make sound business decisions in your startup or engagements. Their counsel prevents missteps that could otherwise derail your success. Mentors by their sound counsel guide proteges from ending up in pits.

Mentors Advice

Mentors share life lessons.

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Mentors use their stories and perspectives to paint pictures of what is possible. They use words and their actions to support you. Invariably, building you up for more than you ever thought possible.Lastly, mentors never give up on you. They never quit believing, encouraging and engaging their protege. Great mentors assume the vision of their proteges until it is a reality.

Featured photo credit: Flickr.com via flickr.com

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Dr. Flo

Executive Director, Hybrid Leadership Institute

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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