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We’re not born with knowledge, nor do we learn everything we need to know in school, so having someone who’s achieved success guide you on your journey makes ALL the difference.
The tradition of having someone to support you with wisdom and experience is as old as the human race. In any tribal society, younger members depend on the older members to pass on their hard-earned knowledge about how to stay safe, find food and shelter, and understand the world around them. The word “mentor” has its roots in Greek mythology. In the Odyssey, Mentor was a character who advised and protected Odysseus’ son Telemachus. Then, in 1699, a novel called “The Adventures of Telemachus”, included the character of Mentor as Telemachus’ tutor. He was the hero of the story, and the modern usage of the term “mentor” seems to have arisen from that book.
So, finding and having a mentor isn’t just a modern thing; it’s been a practice for thousands of years. The question is, how do you find a mentor that’s right for you?
Here are my top seven things to look for in a mentor.
MAKE SURE THAT YOU CAN RELATE TO THEM.
For example, you wouldn’t hire a gardener to clean your pool, right? Ha. If you’re going to be working with someone on a regular basis, and getting business and life guidance from them, your personalities and morals need to align. One of the biggest reasons you get a mentor is to help you excel. If you don’t share similar views, you won’t be able to relate or respect the person you’re working with. You have to like them and like being around them!
THERE MUST BE HONESTY AND TRUST.
A good mentor is honest and direct with you, and you should be able to accept that honesty and know it’s coming from a good place. Honesty is only possible where there is trust. You have to have trust in your relationship in order for your mentor to feel comfortable enough to be honest and you have to be able to get past any discomfort of constructive criticism. That’s the only way you’ll be able to accept the guidance and grow.
THEY MUST BE SUCCESSFUL THEMSELVES.
I know this might sound like common sense when choosing a mentor, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re super wealthy, or super successful in business. Success is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe you’re looking for a mentor in your personal life, and the person that you’re hoping to mentor you has achieved something in life that you’d like to as well. Maybe it’s a health and fitness goal you’re trying to reach, or how you run your household. YOU choose what type of success it is, but make sure that if you’re seeking their guidance, that they’re actually successful in that area.
THEY’RE GENUINE IN PUBLIC AND IN PRIVATE.
This is important to me when it comes to people that are in my life at all, but do you know what I mean here? Character says a lot about a person. Are they genuinely kind? Do you notice if they speak badly of other people to you, and then turn around and act completely different in public? If that’s the case, more than likely, they’re doing the same in regard to you with others. You need a genuine, honest, straightforward person guiding you in life – not someone that you can’t trust. This is true for a mentor, and those you surround yourself with in general.
THEY KNOW HOW AND WHEN TO PUSH YOU.
A good mentor knows how far to push you, and if you question it, it’s a GOOD thing. You may want to fight it. You’re going to try to convince them, yourself, or both otherwise, and you’re going to complain. You actually should feel a little overwhelmed, and that’s the point. If your mentor doesn’t constantly make you comfortably uncomfortable, you need to find a different mentor. This feeling is what helps you GROW.
THEY CHALLENGE YOU.
A great mentor challenges you to think BIGGER and BETTER. You need someone who always pushes you to think beyond the obvious and take it further, and to really innovate. Becoming successful is not just in the immediate need, but also anticipating the future. It’s big-picture thinking like this that get you further than your current situation, and you need someone there to challenge your doubts, fears, and apprehensions.
A GUIDE, NOT A BOSS.
You need someone who’s going to give you guidance to help you make the best possible decision on your own. NOT someone who blatantly tells you what to do – that’s a boss. YOU want to learn how to be the boss, and it’s a disservice to you if you’re being told exactly what to do. You need someone who’s going to encourage thought and growth so that you can come to the right conclusion or solution on your own. A great guide not only helps with that, but this process helps with CONFIDENCE! And who doesn’t need that?!
At the end of the day, your mentor should be your biggest cheerleader and your toughest critic, and having one can make SUCH the difference in whatever you need guidance in.
Make sure to comment and tell me what you think of this blog post!
I have had some really wonderful mentors in my career. They have led me to many successes. Always looking for another, depending on my journey. Currently I am lucky to be a mentor, passing along my knowledge & skills.
I have a mentor with all these qualities.She challenges me and pushes me to be the best I can be. She has always been there when I need her and always been open and honest. Her enthiusiasm is infectious. Friend and mentor for life.
Absolutely wonderful post. My ex-fiancée was not a mentor but he did much of those things a mentor would do as he pushed me in just the right fashion. Though he felt that he was not as successful as me because I have more school, I always felt his ability to overcome obstacles at work and make more money was better than me. In the end, he was a great friend but our relationship didn’t last after five years. I find myself comparing him to others. His ability to support and slightly push me beyond what I thought was capable is something I miss. While the current one is forceful and talks down to me like I’m not successful because I don’t have a brick and mortar. Yet, I know my limitations and what it takes to run a private practice. I can’t do it alone. I’ll need a team and I’m not ready for that yet. Meanwhile, he measures success as him opening his own business and doing everything on his own (when he didn’t). People gave him equipment for free, he’s bartered gym memberships for things and services, I’ve loaned him money that he was not gracious for or attempted to pay back with consideration (instead spending money on going out rather than offering to pay me back and have a nice dinner in), and attempts to guilt trip me into quitting my dreams to help him as if I am supposed to. Hard to want to help someone in need who was so adamant that they did it all ON THEIR OWN. When it was further from the truth. Not like the months of office help I put into him and putting off my own licensure while he got on his feet was any help. I never needed it shouted from the roof tops but his acknowledgement. Though when we argue it’s brought up how I put my stuff off and he didn’t ask me to or for help. Which is a lie. Anyway, moral of my story is…hang on to those who lift you up, fill you up with confidence, and inspire you to be the best you that you can be (little self-actualization of Maslow there). I needed this. Thanks, Michelle.