Choosing the right Mentor

In my 61+ years I have been blessed to have many mentors.  I have written about many of them in posts like this one about Mike, Tena and George or this one about Jerry and Mel.  Today's post will have some similarities to those two, but my intent today is to be more descriptive of what to look for in a mentor when you are seeking one or what to accept in a mentor when one arrives on your doorstep.  For those of you like me who feel compelled to aid rather than asking for aid this can be a good segment to understand how to help someone who comes to you looking for help.

mentor.jpgWhen I reflect upon my mentors I see some very specific issues that were occurring in my life and career.  One mentor helped me with a new role in my existing firm.  Another helped me learn a new industry while a third helped me learn more about how to connect with others and build relationships.  A fourth was just a good friend who was always interested in what I was thinking and who served as a confidant and supporter.  Seeing these circumstances helps me suggest the following stages as times to consider seeking out a mentor for yourself:

  • You are about to go through a role change or a career change.  During these times it has proven beneficial to me to have a mentor to walk with me and help me understand what is important and what to disregard
  • You are seeking to learn a new skillset within your current role.  During these times you should consider aligning yourself with others who have made similar journeys or are subject matter experts in the knowledge you seek to gain
  • When entering a new industry or geographic region it can be extremely helpful to have the insight and perspective of someone who knows the ropes or the twists and turns of where you are going
  • When you feel like you are at the end of your options or if you feel you have run out of ideas it can also be a great time to confide in a mentor or a peer who can help you digest what you are struggling with

Mentors are fabulous resources for each of the times listed above, but the situation at hand will dictate which type of mentor you choose.  Mentors are not generic; in fact, they should be tailored for an age and stage and no mentor will last forever  (there is always an exception, but I see this exception as extremely rare).

Take time to reflect when you seek out a mentor to help yourself understand where you are going and what you are trying to accomplish.  Any mentor you seek to work with will ask you how they can help and you need to have clarity in your own mind about these goals before seeking out someone to be your guide, your sherpa for the journey. 

I invite you to respond to me by clicking here or by responding to this post about your mentor stories.  We can all learn from one another if we take the time to read, listen and share.