Experience is the best teacher and the more experiences you have the more mistakes you’ll make. You’re human and its inevitable that humans make mistakes, but who says that those mistakes must all come from you. This is where your mentor comes in.
A mentor is an experienced or trusted adviser. Mentors help you prepare for what’s ahead and how to deal with what has happened. Just because the title speaks of a mentor, that doesn’t mean that it has to be a singular. You should have a mentor for every important part of your life. If you’re starting a business, get a business mentor (Not a consultant, you have to pay for those). If you’re a parent, get a parenting mentor. If you’re an aspiring communicator, get a communication mentor.
How to ask someone to be your mentor
First, decide what you want to get out of your mentor-ship because surely this question will come up. Do you want someone to guide you or just someone available to ask questions to? Once you decide, tell your potential mentor what skills or traits you admire in them and simply go in for the ask. For example: Potential mentor, I really admire how you’re able to lead with confidence. I’d love to be able to do that. -Pause here for response or effect- Would you mind being my mentor? I think I could learn a great deal from you? If your potential mentor doesn’t agree, simply find another. Keep searching until you find an appropriate mentor(s).
Just how long will this last
Mentoring can last a few months, a few years, or a life time. It’s really up to yourself and your mentor/mentee. Determine the frequency of your meetings together. Will they be informal 5 minute casual sessions or a specific monthly 30 minute meeting requests. Only you and your mentor will know what works for the two of you. No matter how long your discussion plans to last, go into the meeting prepared. Know exactly what feedback you’re looking for so that you can specifically seek it.
Show your appreciation
Yes, I know before I said that a mentor is free, but a little appreciation goes a long way. You can simply give your mentor a handwritten card, a gift card, an invite to lunch, bring lunch, a favorite snack, etc. As you can see, your appreciation can be anywhere from free up to the cost of lunch, but any amount of appreciation goes a long way.
Now it’s your turn
I’m sure you’ve heard of the term pay-it-forward. Mentoring is a two-way street but it’s also simultaneous roads. One of the great things about mentoring is that you can have several mentors and also be a mentor to several people. Although it’s best to be asked, the ways to seek mentees are endless. There’s local programs that you can join. Non-profit organizations are always looking for volunteers to inspire their youth, but you could also simply look at the youth around you. They may have no clue about mentoring or don’t know how to ask, so just let them know that you’re open to it. Ask them about their future plans and offer suggestions that can help them. You can offer them information on your personal life experiences and insist that they find a mentor in the field of work they’re interested in.
At the very least, you should have at least one mentor and one mentee then encourage them to do the same. This small impact will make a difference in your community.
What do you think? How does your mentor relationship work? Tell us about it in the comments below.