Ask any successful person and they will tell you that they got to where they are by learning from others. No matter where you are in your career, embrace the fact that we never stop growing. Our education doesn’t end at the conclusion of our schooling. Yes, there are conferences and certifications. But, there is much that is taught outside of these formats. Lessons in leadership and life usually happen outside of school. Have you considered the benefit of learning from a mentor? At every stage of my business, mentors can play a vital role in your professional and personal development.
When I first started franchising, I found a mentor to help me learn about franchising.
When I became a mom, I joined a moms group to mentor me in motherhood.
When I started podcasting, I joined a virtual coaching group to be mentored in podcasting.
What do you think of when you think of a mentor? A one-to-one relationship with some sage person? It doesn’t have to look that way anymore. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a mentor as "a trusted counselor or guide." How great would it be to have a trusted guide to help you find your way? Someone to help you achieve your goals?
Mentors often fall into two categories: life mentors and subject mentors. Life mentors can inspire you and guide you to develop in various areas of your life. Subject mentors can help you when you want to improve in a specific area or domain.
What can mentors do for you?
- They can coach you. They can listen to you and help you figure out solutions to challenges. Mentors can help create connections.
- They can connect you to resources from people to systems. They have a deep network of people and companies to connect you with.
- They can challenge you (yes, you want them to challenge you!). They ask the tough questions. You are not always right, and you need someone to challenge your ideas.
Before you seek out a mentor, it is important to get clear on who you are, where you are and what you need.
Where do you find these mentors?
1) Identify someone whom you would like to learn from. Do your research on what they offer. Read their books, listen to their podcasts, participate in their programs. Once you have done this, ask if they would consider mentoring you. Show that you have done the work and see how you can be generous with them. Then, just ask. Chances are that they are very busy and you will get a no. But you never know unless you ask.
2) Find people who are just a step beyond you or are on a similar path and start a mastermind group. Set up a monthly meeting and share what you are learning, what resources you have and what you need. You can mentor each other.
3) Join a coaching group that already exists. As my business grew, I joined a CEO group where I was surrounded by successful CEOs. It was an invaluable investment as they lessened my learning curve.
4) Find a virtual mentor. The experts in just about everything are offering free podcasts, courses, blogs and more. Soak it all up. You have the opportunity to learn from them.
There will always be a need for different mentors at different stages of your life and career. Sometimes, it’s a big investment. Why would we expect others to invest in us if we won’t invest in ourselves? And, of course, it’s important to give as well as to receive. I bet that there is someone who could learn from you. Consider how you might mentor someone who is a few steps behind you.