COACHES, MENTORS, ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS, AND MASTERMIND PARTNERS – On my last blog, we discussed the confusion I uncovered that many people struggle with regarding understanding the difference between Coaches, Mentors, Accountability Partners, and Mastermind groups. In our last blog, I shared insights on the value of a Mastermind group and tips that can help these groups work best.
In this blog, I am going to address the value of Mentors. Now, Mentors are different than Mastermind partners as a Mentor is someone who you have approached and developed a bond with regarding helping you develop in your career or business opportunity. A mentor is someone who is already an expert in your chosen field of endeavor, and someone who has agreed to act as your guide through the trials and tribulations of moving through your career in a field they know a great deal about.
A mentor will be someone who agrees to meet with you on a regular basis, either personally or by phone, video conference, etc. and discuss with you any challenges you may be working through. Generally, this would be someone who is much further along in their career, possibly even retired or at least in a position to provide great insight on how to achieve success to the level of which they attainted. An ideal mentor would be someone who spent a number of years in your field, and is willing to provide guidance on what to expect on your ascent through the ranks of leadership, helping to avoid pitfalls, and may even have contacts to provide you to leapfrog some of your competition.
You may be asking why would someone want to help me to get ahead? Great question, everyone has their own reasons for wanting to be a mentor, but generally, it comes down to fulfillment. After you have achieved great things in your career, the next natural evolution is to help others attain as much if not more than you did which can be equally fulfilling. At some point in everyone’s development, they yearn for a sense of fulfillment that can only be filled by helping others. This takes different forms for different people, but successful business people often look for someone to pass along their knowledge and understanding of a business.
I have a handful of mentorees that I work with, some on a more structured basis than others. For example, my children who also work in the same field that I have for the last 20 years and with the same company I work for today, are some of those people I would love to teach them what I know to help them accelerate their careers. Additionally, I have others at various levels of development that are passionate about different things I am or have been passionate about and being able to help them keeps me involved in that business without being completely engrossed at this stage in my career. As I said, everyone has their own reasons, but ultimately, most everyone will look to pass on their wisdom and that is your opportunity.
Also understand that this relationship needs to be a Win / Win relationship, meaning both of you must get something from the arrangement. For the mentoree the knowledge and insight of someone with years of practical knowledge and experience and for the mentor, as I just mentioned, it is a way to pass along information or a way to stay relevant or stay engaged. This bond can’t be broken or the relationship will be tarnished and the chain of benefits lost, leaving both looking for new partners.
Now let me provide some insight on how to be a good candidate for a mentor. First, you must be a good follower, someone who can receive guidance and direction, who can take good notes, and then execute on the directions given. An old saying “To be a good leader, you must first be a good follower”, is never more true, than when you are starting out in your career and learning the lay of the land. Learn how things work before jumping in head-first without guidance or direction. Understand how things operate before setting out to change the world.
Secondly, you should be an excellent listener, that means when you are not certain of the expectation or the communication, ask good intelligent questions to clear up uncertainty. Be a note taker, taking good notes and then reviewing them is something that helped me to leap past many of my peers over the years in my career. I retain a great deal of information in my head, but relying on this solely is a common rookie mistake. Having a strong follow-up system is something that will out-perform people who rely on their memory and recall. Despite my best efforts, I have forgotten important dates, times, names, and even ideas, because I didn’t stop and write them down or record them in some way. And over the years, this has cost me opportunities, and provided valuable lessons of what not to do.
This brings me to one of the most important rules of being a good candidate for a mentor, which is be a “Doer”. Gaining insight and experience from a wiser more successful mentor, who provides wisdom and offers suggestions, that you then don’t execute on, is not only foolish, it is extremely frustrating to the person giving the information. It is so frustrating, that after a second or third time of not executing on information that was provided, would very likely sever the relationship. We are all busy in our lives, and no one wants to feel like they are wasting their time. So, don’t ask for advice if you aren’t going to listen to it or take action on it.
So, who are good candidates to target as a mentor? As I mentioned earlier, someone who is further along in their career and relatively successful in their endeavors. Anyone can play the role of a mentor, but the ideal candidate would be someone in a similar field and aware of the current landscape in that field. Someone who has valuable knowledge and insight to share and is willing to share, is the right answer here. The key is finding that person and then asking if they ever considered being a mentor to someone. This person can be anyone that deem as worthy, my suggestion is that it be someone who is currently or has been where you want to be.
Someone who has demonstrated success in an area or field of endeavor that you appreciate or respect would be ideal, as their insight will not only be valuable but practical and on point. Someone who is a good representation of who you would like to be like. Someone that demonstrates similar traits and shares similar values, is someone that will mostly likely be the best mentor for you. I know when I was younger these particular mentors seemed to be in short supply. Not necessarily good people, but people who were good at or achieving success in an area that I was considering. As such, I turned to mentors in books, people like Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, and Brian Tracy.
This isn’t necessarily the kind of mentor relationship I am referring to, but if that is all you have for now, hours of audio programs and reading, might just be what you need until a better solution comes along, that’s how it worked for me.
So, there you have it a brief run down on the value of mentors, what to expect from such a relationship, how to find a suitable candidate, and how to be a great candidate. I wish you well in trying to find a solution and check back for more information with us on this. As a reminder, our coaching programs are structured to provide such mentoring if that is something you are looking for depending on experience and where you are looking for development.
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