What is a mentor, how do you know if you need mentoring and where do you find one? I was asked these questions just last week by a friend when I casually mentioned that I was about to start a 6-week intensive online mentoring program.
I’ve already discussed the importance of having a success mindset but the next step in this process is to enlist the support of a mentor.
I firmly believe in the power of mentoring and since last year have been working with my mentor to help me take my business to the next level.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an easy decision. Like many people, I was trying to save money and work through some issues myself. But early last year my business hit a plateau and I knew I had to do something different.
I took some time out and realized that mentoring, both informally and formally, had always featured in my professional and personal life.
In fact, it was the key to some of my biggest breakthroughs.
At school, I was lucky enough to have excellent teachers who encouraged my desire to learn and provided positive feedback that helped me excel in my studies.
As a result I aced my exams and developed a lifelong love for learning and self-improvement.
When I started my professional career, I was fortunate enough to attract inspiring bosses who recognised my talent and encouraged me to work hard, believe in my abilities and take risks.
They empowered me to learn from my successes as well as my mistakes which helped me quickly rise through the ranks and lead highly-motivated, top-performing teams.
My business soared from virtually non-existent to six figures in six months. Not to mention the impact mentoring had on my happiness levels, relationships with others and general well-being.
But then the daily grind of being in business kicked in.
One by one, I started to drop the very practices and habits that had helped me get to the top. Guess what happened to my income? That’s right – it took a nose-dive too!
Why You Need A Mentor
Albert Einstein summed it up perfectly when he said :
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
This ability to think outside the box and see things from a different perspective is what makes mentoring such an invaluable asset to any small business owner and entrepreneur.
Being in business for yourself can be challenging and there are some things that a peer group and positive thinking just can’t help you with. That’s when you need a mentor.
The Benefits Of Mentoring
A good mentor won’t usually offer you specific advice but can help you arrive at answers by posing tough questions that you may be reluctant to ask yourself.
They will tell you the truth even when the truth hurts.
In a world where many people are afraid to be honest, this kind of “tough love” is incredibly empowering.
It allows you to change things about yourself and your life. You develop more confidence and belief in yourself. You start to make the right decisions and experience more flow moments.
Sometimes as entrepreneurs, the very qualities that makes us successful – drive, focus and optimism – are the very characteristics that hold us back when it comes to taking things to the next level.
Having a mentor can also help you avoid potentially disastrous mistakes that could affect your business and livelihood. Let me give you an example.
During a recent conversation with my mentor I was able to pull out of a business arrangement that had been dragging on for weeks.
Although it didn’t feel right, I wasn’t sure how to tell the other person.
By simply asking me a few questions my mentor was able to help me get to the heart of the matter and I realized that that partnership was not going to help me achieve my long-term goals.
In just a few short minutes I was able to clarify my thoughts. Later that day I articulated my reasons and ended the deal.
Good mentors gain great pleasure from helping their mentees, seeing them excel and achieve their goals. They want their mentees to be a success and avoid the mistakes they may have made.
This is the foundation for a healthy and positive mentoring relationship – both mentor and mentee need to get along and trust each other implicitly.
How To Find A Mentor
Finding a mentor requires some thought and research. Don’t just go with the first person you come across. Like anything in life, do your due diligence. After all, you will be paying for this service so don’t waste your money.
There are plenty of charlatans out there who will sign you up for their coaching programs in a hurry but then are nowhere to be found when you need their help or things aren’t working out. Here are #5 steps to help you find the right mentor.
#1 What Do You Need Help With?
Ask yourself what area(s) in your life could benefit from some mentoring? Is it your business, your health, your relationships, your spirituality? Everyone is different and mentoring can cover every area of life.
You may find one mentor who can address several concerns or you may prefer to work with different mentors for different aspects of your life. There is nothing wrong with either model.
It really depends on your needs because people have different experiences and expertise. But be sure to get clear on the areas for improvement first.
#2 Shortlist Potential Candidates
Look around and see if there is anyone in your family, circle of friends or peer group whom you admire and respect. It is usually advisable to find someone who is more successful than you in the area you need mentoring support.
If there is nobody suitable in your immediate circle, look further afield. Ask others to recommend a potential mentor for you if this is appropriate.
Referrals are often a good way to find a trustworthy mentor because you have other people’s feedback to go by and there is more accountability if things go wrong.
#3 Approach The Potential Mentor
Reach out to your potential mentor directly. You can use email, social media or the phone if you have their number. Let them know why you are approaching them and what you like or admire about them. Starting with something positive can be a great ice-breaker.
Mentoring is very subjective so pay attention to how your potential mentor responds to your initial contact. Are they open, friendly, abrupt or too busy to speak?
As trivial as this may seem, that first contact can be very telling. Don’t be afraid to change your mind if it doesn’t feel right. You want someone who makes you feel comfortable so trust your intuition.
#4 Define The Mentoring Plan
You need to know how the relationship will work and what it will cost.
What level of support do you need and can your mentor provide it? The most successful mentoring is based on empowerment not co-dependency.
Be sure to ask about the amount of contact time and how your mentoring plan will work.
Is your mentor only available on weekdays, via email contact, or will the mentoring take place weekly or monthly on Skype?
Whatever arrangement you agree on, it should suit both parties not just the mentor. Remember you are the paying client so speak up.
#5 Push Your Boundaries
Real growth can only happen outside of your comfort zone. It’s therefore very important that when you embark on a mentoring relationship you choose someone who will challenge and push you.
Synergy is important but it shouldn’t be at the expense of stretching you to think and act differently. How else can you take your business to new heights, lose those excess pounds or turn around your ailing marriage?
Don’t take the easy option. Seek out a mentor who has your best interest AND your growth at heart.
Finally, you should know when to stop.
If the relationship has run its course, it’s time to call it a day. You may have gone as far as you can with that mentor so it’s important to end the arrangement on a positive note. Thank them for their time and move on. Remember, change is good.
What about you?
Have you ever mentored anyone or been mentored yourself. How has it helped you? Does mentoring interest you? Please comment and share below.