Image courtesy of Velerato

From the image above you might get what “mentoring” is all about. Do you have a mentor? This may be hard to read, “no one knows everything, all the time, and in all circumstances.”  Do you believe this statement? If you do not then, you are foolish at best. If you do believe this statement, you are well on your way to learning to be humble and admit that you might need guidance in your professional and personal life. 

You know not everyone has walked the same roads in life. Another person’s experiences and solutions just might help you in your own challenges, goals, and visions. No one gets to the top alone.

“Mentor” defined. “A mentor according. to John Maxwell is someone who teaches, guides, and lifts your up in any aspect of your life by virtue of their experience and insight.”

If you are a person seeking a mentor, do your due diligence in that search. What should you be looking for in a mentor?

  1. Someone who is 5 – 10 years ahead of you on their own journey. This equates to relevant knowledge and expertise.
  2. A mentor should be enthusiastic and respectful.
  3. A mentor should be a good listener and give honest feedback.

Lessons in Mentoring

  1. The toughest person to lead is yourself. We must each learn how to make our decisions and learn how to confront others with which we do not agree. We need to learn self-discipline, practice patience and be accountable for what we do and say.
  2. Understand what you do with your TIME. It is important to look at what you do with the time you are given each day. No one can manage time, what you can manage is yourself and how you use what you have. Practice the Pareto Principle.
  3. “The choice you make, make you!” ~John Maxwell. I am always astonished when I mentor someone that they have never realized that their decisions have put them where they are today in the predicament, they find themselves in.
  4. There are Leaders and there are Supporters. Which are you? A leader/mentor will stretch you, have you question everything, develop you, be unconditional with their love, support and lifting of you. Someone who is a supporter will close doors, argue, let you fail, be agreeable with bad decisions, and steal your time. In other words, they are supporting keeping you where you are instead of helping you advance and succeed.
  5. Ask only the questions you want answers to. This one is the hardest lesson for a mentee to develop. What I see is that the questions that occur to me as a mentor do not even make the radar of those I mentor. Why? The answer is the reason you want a mentor, their walk is ahead of you, their experience is vast, and their knowledge base is greater than yours is.

Mentor Questions to a Mentee

Before you ask someone to be your mentor, think about what they are giving to you. The Mentor is giving away his/her valuable time, expertise, wisdom, and value. It is common for the Mentor to ask the Mentee the following questions before each mentoring session:

  1. What is my [Mentor’s] ROI? [Return on My Investment of time with you?]
  2. What did you learn from our last mentoring session?
  3. How did you apply what you learned from our last mentoring session?
  4. What are your top 1 or 2 questions today, you would like to explore?
  5. How can I [Mentor] add value to you today?

Is Mentoring the only path?

Actually “NO” it is not, but it is one of the best ways to feel validated that you are on the right path, going in the right direction.  So, what else could I do? One of the ways I learned long ago is establishing a relationship with another person who you admire, is successful in or not in your field of business and inviting them out to a meal that you pay for, and they eat, and you ask questions.  Here is a list of seven questions and the reasoning behind asking them and what you will learn from the person’s answers.

  1. What is the greatest lesson you have learned? By asking this question I seek their wisdom. Everyone has valuable lessons they have learned in their personal lives and professional lives. The best learners are life-long learners who listen deeply to what is being said.
  2. What are you learning now? This question allows me to benefit from their passion. A person who is a life-long learner will be valuable because they are always in a learning mode.  It does not matter the person’s age because they are always having new “A-HA” moments.
  3. How has failure shaped your life? This question gives insight into their attitude. No one is immune from failure.  Failures are our greatest lessons in life.
  4. Who do you know whom I should know? This allows me to engage with their network. You have heard it said, “It’s who you know that gets you ahead.”  Nothing could be truer.  The more people you know and interact with the wider the breath of your experiences and knowledge will become.
  5. What have you read that I should read? This question directs my personal growth. Today, this question is very telling.  Too often our resources and sources are just snippets of memes, social media and tech sources which are vague and spun at best.  Reading and gleaning knowledge from books is becoming a lost art.
  6. What have you done that I should do? This helps me seek new experiences. This is a great question, experiences are not about scaling the seven highest peaks in the world [although it could be], it is about getting out from behind your technology and living life to its fullest.
  7. How can I add value to you? This shows my gratitude and desire to add value to them. Do you realize you also have something to give back in this conversation? Yes, you do.  You are essentially giving your interviewee the chance to ask you do something for them besides paying for their meal.

Now What?

Now it is time to get out there and decide, find a mentor or someone you can take out to ask questions of.

Who are the top five people you know, who are successful whom you might contact and ask?

Okay, now pick up the phone and call them, write them an email or better yet what about an old fashion letter by snail mail? Did you know more snail mail is opened today because of its rarity? 

Let me know how it goes!

And Good Luck!
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