The Perfect Mentor

originally published January 3, 2019|Servant Leadership

The start of a new year is an excellent time to reflect on the prior year, revisit your vision, and plan your goals into actionable tasks.

As National Mentoring Month in the U.S., January marks an opportunity to show gratitude to the people who have helped us along the way, as well as opens a door to invite someone else in to guide us toward our future vision.

For those unfamiliar with mentoring, it can seem a little daunting. How do you find the perfect mentor? What should you ask? According to mentoring expert Phil George, it needn’t be daunting, and it could provide just the springboard you need to crush those big audacious goals.

George, co-founder, and CEO of mentoring software business MentorcliQ, said many people — himself once included — believe that your perfect mentor should be only one individual who has overcome all challenges you will face and embodies everything you desire to be.

men·tor[ˈmenˌtôr, ˈmenˌtər]

NOUN — an experienced and trusted adviser.

VERB — advise or train.

Finding that one person may be next to impossible, he noted, and that can be disheartening. Instead, you should think about finding “a board of advisers.” A group of mentors that covers the array of requirements that you have.

“You build this picture of someone who encapsulates everything you want, and they can seem impossible to find,” said George. “It’s important to realize that it may not be one person who helps with everything, but a collection of different people with various insights.”

Once you change your perspective, it is far easier to compartmentalize your needs and identify the person best qualified to assist with each collectively. That could mean finding someone who has progressed to the levels you are striving to achieve and another person who has the skills in an area that you desire excel.

Then it’s simply a matter of being upfront with each of those “advisers” about the area of guidance you seek and how they may help. “If you can be clear about what you hope to achieve, I think mentors really appreciate that,” said George.

“Sometimes there is too much vagueness,” he continued, saying that we should approach mentoring like any other goal or task. “Those looking for mentors need to sit down and really understand what they want to achieve, know what is standing in their way and look for ways to get past that.”

Mentoring trends

The perceived importance of mentoring has been steadily growing over recent years. And that perception is only set to grow in 2019.

Experts predict that mentoring will become a business priority, especially for smaller companies, which are now seeing proof of the return on investment. Technology will be harnessed so mentorship programs can be rolled out on mobiles and tablets. Informal mentorship programs will emerge between entrepreneurs where structured forums do not yet exist.

These trends will help make it easier for people to find formal guidance programs or tribes with the right level of mentorship. But, more importantly, they will also enable more people forums to put themselves out there as mentors themselves, as another means of self-development or opportunity to give back.

Mentorship as a priority

Treat mentorship like any other wildly important goal, block time in your calendar for seeking or for providing and keep a strict timeframe. Those looking to take a leap from being a mentee to mentor should be careful to do so gradually and not bite off more than they can chew. If they have the knowledge to share and time to mentor, commit, and then deliver!

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Patricia Lynn

Patricia Lynn

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