Finding a mentor is a very tough task. A lot of people say “I wish I had a mentor,” but they do not actually know want to learn and a lot of other people are quick to call someone as their mentor without even asking themselves whether that person is the correct “fit” for them in the first place.
One need mentor especially if they are just getting started with something new, maybe they have recently graduated college or are looking to make a career change, here is what they need to be aware of and what they should look for:
1. They Practice What They Preach
Finding people who “talk the talk” is not so hard and honestly, you can find that on YouTube.
What you are looking for someone is that one who “walks their walk.” They won’t be perfect and you should not expect them to be (we are human after all). But if you want to learn something, look for someone who walks the walk.
That’s the thing about mentorship that people get confused. People think of mentors as all-knowing people who can help them with everything, when in reality a successful mentorship is much focused. One will choose a mentor only for certain reasons, something you want to learn. And yes, there will be ancillary benefits, but a mentor is someone who does what you want to do one day, really well. You are there to learn that one (or those two, or three) things from them.
Not necessarily everything.
So, based on what you want to learn, look for someone who “walks the talk” with the thing you want to one day embodies yourself.
2. They Want To Invest In You, and You Want To Invest In Them
A mentorship goes both ways.
It is an exchange. It is not, I am young and inexperienced and so you should give me all the answers. Not even close. Even if you are young and not experienced, it is your own job to learn, integrate, and then bring new knowledge to the table.
If you can do this, your mentor should want to invest even more into you because you are now providing value to them as well. If both parties are growing then one can expect it as a healthy mentorship.
However, if your mentor isn’t all that engaged, or if you as a student aren’t giving it your all, then the relationship isn’t working.
When both parties are sharing each other’s knowledge, in proper way or format then a valuable mentorship will occur.
3. They Know When to Push You
You cannot be properly mentored by someone who is not willing to push you.
You should know what u need, things are not easy, and it is the only road that truly makes a difference. A good mentor knows how far to push you and you are going to question it.
You are going to fight it. You are going to try to convince them, yourself, or both otherwise. You are going to complain. You are going to feel overwhelmed. You are going to feel very uncomfortable and that is the point.
If the person you want to mentor you, or who is mentoring you, does not constantly make you feel comfortably uncomfortable, you need to find a different mentor. When to make you feel comfortable and when to push you up, all the things will be known only to your mentor.
But that’s what growth feels like.
4. They Care About You as a Human Being
A mentorship is about so much more than just learning something. Yes, that is the foundation, that is the primary intention, but along the way, a dynamic tends to unfold that is difficult to put into words. You spend so much time together that you end up knowing each other in a unique way. It is a friendship that comes around once in a lifetime.
You should have to practice on one skill. That is somewhat robotic. The true value of a mentorship is the emotional growth that tends to satisfy it.
Yes, you should end up far more skilled in your chosen area of expertise by the time the path comes to a point of separation, but if you reflect back, you will see that you grew in so many other ways.
A mentorship challenges you as a person, as an emotional being, and that is where the real growth happens.
5. They Want To See You Succeed
A true mentor wants you to know everything they know.
They want to teach you so that you can one day take what you have learned and integrate it with your own unique skill sets. A true mentor wants to watch you go from low to high.
Your mentor should be your proponent, the one with whom you will share all the things and learn unknown things. They provide context and are a reminder of where you first began and they are proud to have seen you come so far.
A true mentor needs to see you succeed. And so, then it is the test of the “amateur” to one day take on the responsibility of all that he or she has learned, and fully blending it on their own, as well as the challenge of the mentor to know that they gave them all the tools to do so.
Finding a mentor and being a mentor is an art in itself.
It requires a certain level of single-mindedness and vow, only very few have it.
On both ends, it is a test for patience. And be open, constantly. But it is also one of the greatest things anyone could possibly experience to be a mentor or to be mentored.
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