Experts agree that obtaining a mentor is critical in developing your best self. But, where do you start and what exactly should you be looking for?
First things first, be sure you have bought into the concept of a mentor/mentee relationship.
To truly reap the benefits of the mentorship, you must be willing to put in the work. Be prepared to ask questions, be open to hearing constructive feedback, and go into the relationship with the intention to learn. Above all, actively listen and be willing to take the advice you’re given and act upon it.
Because, the key to getting results is to execute the things you learn.
So, what should you look for in a mentor? We’ve narrowed it down to these top 5 things:
Choose a mentor that has relevant professional expertise, pertinent knowledge, common interests, a similar background, etc. This way, they can offer you specific, valuable mentorship. However, don’t be afraid of a few differences. Working with someone who is different than you will allow you to be exposed to new ideas and a fresh perspective.
#2: A Willingness to Share
A desirable mentor is one that wants to share their advice and life experiences. It’s important that a mentor genuinely sees the benefits to a mentorship to truly be effective. Maybe they’ve had a mentor in the past and understand the impact of good mentorship. It’s important not only that they are willing to share, but also that they are available to do it. Make sure the mentor you choose is physically and emotionally available to work with you and commit the time and energy required.
#3: Honesty and Candor
Is this person willing to be open and honest with you? A mentor should be truthful while also respectful in providing feedback. They should encourage you to push yourself and be willing to ask the tough questions when needed. They should be able to give both positive and constructive feedback and provide advice on how to best utilize your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.
#4: Admirable Qualities
Do you admire this person? Whether it’s their career success, fame, fortune, following, or reputation, it’s important to look for a mentor that has admirable qualities. Are they liked and respected by others? Is this someone you can trust? Do you value their advice? This may not be known immediately in a mentorship, but as time progresses it's important to ask yourself if this person is someone you respect and trust. You may not always agree with their advice, and the occasional difference of opinion is normal, but trust is non-negotiable.
#5: More Than One
Lastly, it’s important to look for more than one mentor.
It’s difficult to find all the qualities you’re looking for in just one mentor, so consider expanding your horizons and looking for several. It may be that you have a great mentor for career and professional advice and another mentor for more personal and family advice. Building several mentor relationships allows for a greater variety of advice and differing perspectives.
Once you’ve found your ideal mentor(s), know that you don’t have to keep them forever. If the mentorship isn’t working for you both, don’t be afraid to end the relationship amicably and respectfully.
Also keep in mind, you will get out what you put into the mentorship. Come with questions, do your work, and implement what you learn.