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Why Mentoring Matters: A Guide on a Stellar Example for Employees

Why Mentoring Matters: A Guide on a Stellar Example for Employees

Finding success in today’s competitive world means taking advantage of every opportunity available to you.

While there is a persistent narrative in our culture of the lone wolf or cowboy who plays by their own rules and still succeeds. The reality is that no one makes it to the top completely on their own.

Virtually all successful people have had a mentoring influence in their life, whether it was a teacher, parent or boss, someone served as a role model, coach or cheerleader pushing them out of their comfort zone to success.

But is mentoring a dying art? What do you look for in a mentor? How do you find one? And what can you expect from the mentoring process? We”ll answer all of these questions and more in this post.

A working definition of mentoring

For our purposes here, a mentor is someone who has wisdom. And what exactly is wisdom? It is the combination of knowledge and experience.

A mentor is generally someone who has been in a field for a while and is successful in what they do. Mentoring itself is defined as a relationship between a more experienced person (the mentor) who supports and encourages others (the mentee) in their business or career path.[1] Mentors generally act as a resource for the mentee without micro managing them.

    Like many people, I have had the benefit of various mentors throughout the years and they have proved invaluable to my growth and success. In fact, my first forays into internet marketing were because I had watched a friend of mine become very successful working from home on his computer. When I approached him about helping me learn the business, he agreed, but only if we set certain ground rules.

    While this was a much more formal arraignment than I was expecting, looking back I can see the value of his approach. Here are the rules we agreed upon:

    Meetings

    We were to meet every Wednesday for lunch, each meeting would last approximately one hour, and if one of us couldn’t make it we needed to give the other 24 hours notice. This made the mentoring relationship a priority.

    Just like anything else that was important to my businesses success, I had do commit to it and take it seriously.

    Now since that first mentoring relationship, I have had others with various people who lived far away from me, some even in other countries. In those cases we would meet by phone, direct message or video conference, but we always had a set time and a regular schedule.

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    Duration

    He insisted that our mentoring relationship have a cutoff date of three months. He explained that while he was happy to help, he was not interested in becoming a crutch for me every time I had a problem. Besides, I wasn’t able to pay him and as he explained “I have a life outside of work”.

    As it turned out, we have kept in touch over the years and exchange thoughts and ideas regularly, in fact it’s not uncommon for him to come to me for advice now. But having this three month time limit was important for a couple of reasons.

    First, it made me focus my attention on him as an asset. Knowing that this reservoir of information was going to dry up one day made me value his time more.

    As time wore on, I found myself carrying a small notebook with me so that I could jot down questions and ideas for our next meeting. This is a habit I carry on to this day, although my phone has replaced the notebook.

    The other thing it did was give him an out. This wasn’t something that I realized until I started mentoring others. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur or business owner. Some people don’t take direction well or just aren’t organized enough to be their own boss.

    This can be very frustrating for the mentor, they put a significant amount of effort into the relationship and if they keep leading the horse to water without having them drink, being able to have a hard cutoff date makes mentoring these people bearable.

    Goals

    In our very first meeting, we set (and wrote down) goals for our relationship. I was quite frankly a little stymied when he ask me what my goals for our meeting were, but luckily for me he had done this before and was able to help out.

    We determined that the goals for this mentoring relationship would consist of the following:

    • Develop a website specifically for my online marketing activities.
    • Develop different marketing strategies for the products and services I offered.
    • Monitor and analyze the different marketing strategies using A/B testing to determine the most cost effective processes.
    • Come up with a long term (5 year) plan for the business.

    Now that we had our goals in mind, we went through and broke each of them down into smaller steps that could be put on our three month timeline.

    What is a great mentor like?

    Great mentors are like the north star, not a GPS.

    Man I love my GPS ! I plug in an address and get turn by turn directions to my destination. I haven’t been lost, even in a completely unfamiliar city in years. The newer ones will even reroute you to avoid traffic delays, construction or accidents.

    But back in the early days of navigation, the north star was an important navigation guide.

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    Using a fixed point in the sky, ship captains could navigate their way across vast oceans traveling from one continent to another.

    While today’s captains can go to and from very specific ports using a GPS that maps out an exact route. Using the north star for navigation was much less precise. You could get from one continent to another, but the seas, winds and storms would ensure that you never took the same route twice.

    A good mentor is like the north star, not a GPS. They will give you guidance, just not specific direction.

    Three signs of a great mentor

    How can you you recognize a great mentor? Here’re some crucial signs:

    1. They allow you to make mistakes.

    The term “Experience is the best teacher” is true. A mentoring relationship is not supposed to save you from all your mistakes, while getting lost in a storm is scary, it may just throw you off course enough that you land in a better place.

    2. They avoid becoming the hero.

    While this is definitely related to the first point, they need to allow you to fail and make your own mistakes. It’s more than just that. Mentoring can feed into the mentor’s ego.

    Being seen as, and thinking of themselves as the one with all of the answers can make them subconsciously want to live up to that expectation. A good mentor will recognize this and only offer the advise that they are qualified to give.

    3. They use questions, not answers.

    There’s an old saying:

    “The good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. You should listen twice as much as you talk.”

    In that respect, the mentoring process is a lot like therapy. A good therapist is there to help you work through issues and problems on your own. They give you tools, advice and suggestions, but you’re the one who has to do the hard work, they won’t do it for you.

    A good mentor does the same thing.

    Are you ready for a mentor?

    We’ve talked a lot about mentoring, mentors, what they do, how they do it, and what makes a good one. But mentoring is a two way street.

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    If you see the benefits of getting a mentor, it’s important to understand that as a mentee, you have obligations and responsibilities to the mentor as well. Always keep in mind that you are asking for someone to share their hard earned knowledge and experience with you, maybe for free and maybe (like I did) so that you can get into the same business as them and one day become a competitor.

    These are some serious things that you’ll want to consider before getting into a mentoring relationship:

    Are you coach-able?

    This can really be an issue for entrepreneurs, a lot of times we will have our own ideas and ways of doing things.

    Perhaps we have been successful in other businesses before and we have a track record of success. Recognize that the things that gave us previous success may not translate into success this time around.

    Starting at zero again can be a bitter pill to swallow. You must be able to set aside what you think you know and learn new and different ways to achieve success.

    Do you take advice or criticism well?

    No adult likes to be criticized or told what to do, but being a mature adult means that you can receive direction and criticism without taking it personally.

    Every high school football player realizes that the coach is yelling so that the team gets better, not because he doesn’t like you personally. Likewise, your mentor’s criticism is not directed at you, but rather to get you to your predetermined goals.

    Are you committed to the process?

    The length of the mentoring relationship can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. If you are not willing to commit the time and effort needed then please don’t even get started.

    By having someone to mentor you, they are committing their time and energy to helping you out. Nothing frustrates a good mentor more than someone who is disorganized, who misses appointments or who isn’t willing to put in the time and effort needed.

    Additionally, you need to have realistic expectations about the mentoring relationship. I have seen people approach potential mentors solely based on the mentor’s network or connections. The potential mentee sees the mentor as a conduit to get to the people who he thinks can really help his career. This is a big no no.

    First of all, it’s a dishonest way to start the mentoring relationship. Secondly, I have never seen it work, and it usually backfires.

    Mentors, like all of us, don’t like to be used for ulterior motives, and once your motives become clear it is not only the end of the mentoring relationship, but it usually puts the former mentee’s reputation in jeopardy.

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    So if your mentor does introduce you to their network, always be respectful and check with your mentor before initiating contact with someone they’ve introduced you to.

    Tips on getting a mentor

    A lot of people are more than happy to help out someone “new” in the business with advise or direction. But becoming a mentor is a much more involved process.

    Before asking someone to be a mentor, have something that you bring to the table. After all, a mentor is agreeing to take you under their wing so your attitude, reputation and success is a direct reflection on the mentor.

    Tip #1 – Go the extra mile

    In a working environment, potential mentors are always watching and evaluating the new people. They notice the ones who come in everyday exactly at 9 am and leave exactly at 5 pm. And they also notice the ones who come in early, stay late and don’t complain about doing tasks that no one else wants to do.

    So by putting in a little extra effort, you will become a much more attractive candidate for a mentor.

    Tip #2 – Treat everyone as a gatekeeper.

    A gatekeeper is a person who has access to an influential person. The obvious gatekeeper is the boss’s secretary or personal assistant. These are people you don’t want to piss off!

    The trickier part is you don’t know all of the relationships that gatekeeper has. So even though you may have a good relationship with the gatekeeper, you might have been rude or unprofessional to a co-worker who is friends with that boss’s assistant. You have just made your life harder than it needs to be.

    Tip # 3 – Ask!

    Once you have shown yourself to be committed, hard-working and valuable to the organization, you’ll need to be direct and ask for the mentoring relationship.

    Don’t expect mentors to seek you out. You’ll need to be the one to initiate the relationship.

    Conclusion

    Having a good mentor can have untold benefits for your career or business life. By connecting with a mentor, you’ll get the value of their experience and knowledge. But more importantly, a mentoring relationship will give you accountability, milestones to reach, and an accurate assessment of your skills.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Business Mentors: What Is Mentoring

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    David Carpenter

    Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    How to Set Goals Smartly to Accomplish More in Life

    How to Set Goals Smartly to Accomplish More in Life

    We all know setting goals is the best way to give your life focus and direction. But did you know that by setting goals, it can also help you to get a lot more of your important work done?

    Having clear and effective goals that are built around your values focuses your mind on what is important. It helps you filter out the unnecessary and gives you an ‘outcome mindset’ rather than a ‘task mindset’.

    An outcome mindset is one where you are focused on the objective—the outcome— of what you are intending to achieve. A task mindset focuses on the tasks you have to do each day and this leads to completing unnecessary tasks (or spending too much time on the unimportant) and procrastination.

    To help you with transforming yourself from being focused on the tasks and to be focused on the outcome, here are 17 ways having clear goals will not only increase your productivity but also supercharge your ability to get the important things done:

    1. Make it a goal to have no more than 10 tasks on your to-do list each day.

    One of the surprising benefits of having a small number of goals for the day is how frequently you find yourself accomplishing more.

    When you have a random number of tasks to complete each day, the likelihood is you will not get them all done.

    When you set yourself a small number of tasks to complete—your “must completes” for the day—and you restrict these to a set number, you are much more likely to get them done.

    2. Decide what your monthly and weekly goals are.

    What do you want to accomplish this month? What do you want to accomplish this week? These questions focus you in on the things that are important to you.

    Most people are waiting for life to happen to them, after all, it is far easier to react to events around you than to create events around you.

    When you create the events in your life by having weekly and monthly goals that reflect your objectives for the year, you are going to get far more of your important work done.

    3. Work on what’s important to you and focus on your priorities

    Building your daily life around your goals is going to keep you on the path you want to follow.

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    Without any goals directing you towards where you want to go, you will find yourself drifting off your desired path and aimlessly wandering through life, wondering how you got to where you are. More often than not, where you end up will not be where you want to be.

    4. Eliminate the unimportant tasks that come up each day

    Every day throws up a lot of unexpected issues. These issues often come from our bosses, clients/customers and friends and family. It does not matter how well planned your day is, these things are going to happen.

    When you have a set number of goals to achieve each day, these issues will not hijack your day and destroy it. You will find you can handle the unexpected while continuing to get on with your important work for the day.

    5. Always stay focused

    When you set goals, it means you have made a decision about what it is you want to achieve and what is important to you. This allows you to become a much more focused person because you are mindful of what you want.

    Focus, in today’s world, is a skill in short supply. By developing your focus, you are going to put yourself way ahead of everyone else.

    6. Begin the day with a goal

    One of the best ways to accomplish more of your important tasks each day is to begin the day with a clear goal.

    It could be to complete a specific project or to simply get outside and walk for thirty minutes in nature.

    When you start the day with a specific goal to do something, you are much more likely to get it done.

    7. Start small

    If you have never had an outcome-orientated mindset, then begin will small steps.

    A simple goal to have each day, and a very healthy one, is to go for a thirty-minute walk.

    Another simple goal to set for the day is to choose one piece of work that you will complete that day, then focus all your attention on getting that work completed before you finish for the day.

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    These pieces of completed work add up over time, and you’ll find that you are getting far more done than you ever did before.

    8. Ask yourself: What one thing you could do today that would have the biggest positive impact on your day?

    This is a great way to accomplish even the hardest of goals.

    Asking yourself this question really helps you discover what projects and work are important. This question is not focused on completing the goal. This question is all about making progress on the goal.

    Once you have completed that task, you will find the next step happens naturally. Before you know it, you have made a huge impact on your goal.

    9. Consistently take small steps which lead to great distances

    One of the biggest reasons why most people never achieve their goals is their goals seem impossible because of the time and effort required to achieve them.

    The best way to make even the most difficult goals achievable is to break them down into small manageable steps. Even the smallest step moves you forward towards achieving the goal.

    Just two or three little steps completed every day will, over time, take you towards where you want to be.

    Want to write a book? Writing 500 words per day will give you a 60,000-word manuscript in around ten months.

    10. Plan what you are going to achieve the day before with the 2+8 Prioritization System

    This one always works. Before you finish your day’s work, take ten minutes or so and decide what two things you will achieve the next day. This is what I call my “two objectives”.

    Once you have decided on your objectives, write down eight other tasks you want to complete the next day. These tasks I call my “focus tasks”.

    You then make sure that whatever gets thrown at you the next day, you will complete these ten tasks.

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    Over a period of one month, you will have achieved around 300 meaningful tasks all related to your goals and important work.[1]

    11. Know what your majors and minors are

    This one is the secret of all highly successful people. They know what work has the most impact on their life and business and what work does not.

    For example, checking emails, while necessary, is not a major task. It does not move you forward in any meaningful way. Talking to your most important customer and reinforcing your strong relationship with them, that’s a major.

    One of the best examples I’ve heard comes from Brian Tracy. In his example, Brian says a salesperson doing work in the office is doing minor work. A salesperson talking with a customer is doing major work.

    Focus all your time and energies on your major work and reduce the time you spend on your minor work.

    12. Add positive pressure to get more done

    When you have goals, you feel obligated to do something about them. When you do not have a goal, you are much more likely to procrastinate and spend unproductive time thinking about what to do next.

    Goals give you clarity, goals give you purpose and when you have both clarity and purpose, you find you no longer procrastinate and you utilize your time much more effectively.

    13. Have specific, clear goals to incentivise you to move forward.

    How you write the action steps related to your goals is important. If you have a goal that says “make an online course,” you will not achieve very much.

    Writing your action steps out such as “make progress on the online course outline” or “make five slides for online course” is specific and is going to lead to action and achievement.

    14. Make progress that drives more progress

    When you see you are making progress on your goals every day, you will find you begin getting much more done.

    Momentum is created once you start and when momentum begins you find positive habits develop. Put momentum and motive together and you have the ingredients for massive progress towards your goals and your work.

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    15. Take up accountability

    Something amazing happens to our brains when we set ourselves goals. Having goals we are very clear about and determined to achieve gives our brains the necessary incentive to focus on getting the goal achieved.

    We have accountability to ourselves. That accountability gives us all the incentive we need to get the work done every day.

    16. Use the power of Parkinson’s Law

    Parkinson’s Law states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

    When you have set goals to achieve each day and you begin the day with a review of what you want to get completed, Parkinson’s Law will take over.

    This means no matter what else gets thrown at you throughout the day, if you have set yourself a time, you will finish your work for the day, you will find you will finish what you have planned for the day at that time. This one works brilliantly.

    17. Become a highly focused, goal achieving individual

    Having goals you are focused on each day develops a ‘can do’ mindset. When you have a strong ‘can do’ mindset and the discipline to focus on what you want to get accomplished each day, you find work you previously thought would take weeks and months to complete soon start being completed within hours or days.

    A great mindset and a strong work ethic, coupled with daily goals will make some very positive changes in your life.

    These 17 tips are just the start. When you begin focusing your daily activities on your goals instead of on your tasks, you will see an incredible transformation take place in your life.

    Your energy increases, you feel happier more often and you start to feel you are making progress on the things that are important to you which just leads to accomplishing more and more.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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