Innovation Series #3 : Choosing a Mentor

By | February 11, 2008

‘Mentorship’ is one of the key contributors to your persona/professional growth. No matter how educated you are or how many ventures you have started or been part of, Mentorship is very important to realize your dreams. Most successful business people definitely have mentors who must have helped them in one way or the other.

This short write-up on mentor ship is my learning, experience and thought.

Who is a Mentor?

According to Dictionary.com, a ‘mentor’ is a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. Note the word “trusted” because this is very important consideration which cannot afford to miss while choosing your mentor.

How do you choose a Mentor?

There are various articles and many speakers who have defined aspects which you need to consider while choosing your mentor. However, in my opinion, choosing the right mentor is a very tedious task and you will need to spend lot of time evaluating all your short listed people who can be your potential mentors.

Before you begin

Before you begin to evaluate various acquaintances to choose your mentor, you will need to first perform your SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threat) analysis. This would provide you with what you have and what you need.

Second, you will need to write down what is that you are looking for in guidance and support to achieve your goal.

Third, you will need to keep identifying people whom you have access to, for approaching for mentor ship.

In my opinion, there are two approaches for finding a mentor; One, you have a person with whom you are working with (colleague / boss) and Two, you have a person whom you look up-to as a master in any subject which interests you.

Getting mentor ship in both the situations is not easy. There are challenges in finding either/both of the above mentioned kind of people around you and most importantly, they should be ready to be your mentor (this plays a major role).

Key Qualities of a Mentor

It is your very personal choice of choosing a mentor, however, there are few key qualities which are common to all mentors and you will benefit if you can identify your priorities and then choose your mentor.

Listener – Mentor ship is all about guidance. You are banking on the person to guide you to be successful in your work. ‘Listening’ is a very important quality which you can notice very predominantly in your mentor. If you have made a list of people whom you can look up to for guidance if that person is not a good listener, then you will need to revisit the name again (this is my very personal guidance). You can definitely compromise on this aspect to ensure you learn tactics in handling your business/project, but there will be many times when you want to question and learn from your mentor and hence, listening becomes a key attribute.

Optimist – Being optimistic is nothing short of greatness. The key attribute of successful people are that they are always optimists and this is contagious.

Teacher – You mentor should be able to teach you what you need. True, you will need to know what you want to learn, but your mentor should help get you the information when you are ready for it.

When you find a mentor

  • Understand your mentors schedules
  • Do as much research as possible regarding the person before you choose/begin. You are not obligated; if during your research you understand that your selection is not appropriate, then do not proceed. Do not just choose a mentor, because you have to, choose because you want to learn.
  • Be specific of what your expectations are. Do not approach the person and say “You are good at People Management. Can you teach me all of it?” This will never work. You will need to very specific of what you want – “I would like to learn from you, how you efficiently manage your resources.” Also, before proceeding explain what you do and how you do. It would give a good insight for your mentor as to what your thought process is and can guide you accordingly.

How do you become a Mentor?

Remember – “you take to give”. Do not be selfish and share your knowledge. As much as you want to be mentored, there might be others who look up to you for guidance. Share your knowledge and learning as much as you can.

The qualities you look for in a mentor are the qualities you need to have too 🙂

How does a Mentor choose you?

It is not that you choosing the mentor is important, the mentor accepting your request is also important. Remember the famous saying – “When the student is ready, the master appears.” This is the truth. You might be successful in finding a mentor, but your mentor accepting your candidature is the underlining factor. You will need to have patience and keep following up with your request. Your mentor should see the determination in you to learn.

Once you started working with a mentor, appreciate their time and knowledge and always be pro-active in accomplishing things. It motivates the person teaching you and also shows your interest and respect for the person.

Keep looking out always; you don’t know where you might find another mentor. Meet with people, talk to them and share your ideas.

The above are just my views and this might not be the way which works always. If you have a story or want to share your personal experience, please comment back and share with us.

2 thoughts on “Innovation Series #3 : Choosing a Mentor

  1. linda m lopeke

    I enjoyed reading your insightful article about choosing a mentor! I wanted to mention that people can connect with their mentors over the internet as well as in person.

    For example, I run an award-winning virtual mentoring program called SMARTSTART for students attending the world’s top business schools and for folks who are just starting careers in the Fortune 500. We teach them how to do less and achieve more and train them in “martial arts for the mind” so they can have a competitive edge like no other.

    We’re happy to welcome new members and there’s no commitment required to take advantage of our 30 tips series available from the web site at http://www.smartstartcoach.com.

    I started this program as a means of giving back to all the great mentors who contributed to my success over the years. Being a mentor is very gratifying work and I hope to continue serving in this capacity for a long time to come.

    Linda M. Lopeke
    http://www.smartstartcoach.com

  2. anwin

    Hi. Thanks for participating in the Bangalore bloggers meet scheduled for tomorrow, Feb 16. I would like to confirm your participation and I am looking forward to meeting you in person and other bloggers as well. As of now 50+ bloggers have confirmed their participation. Email me at anwin.at.anw.in or call me on 9880518019 for anything regarding the bloggers meet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *