Guiding Lights: How to Choose Your Mentors Wiselyby Kinga Lewandowska
In a perfect world we would meet our mentors at school, at home, or at work. In reality, most of us go a long way, sometimes through existential crises and spiritual awakenings, to meet people who possess wisdom we could apply in our own lives. While we need to be selective about our relationships and whom we spend our precious time with, inviting a mentor into our closest circle is one of the keys to the doors of success.
Who Is A Mentor?
A mentor is a person who wants to help you become the best version of yourself. It might be someone you found on your own or through friends, acquaintances, and recommendations from other people you look up to. Whether you connect with them online or during an event or a course, mentors are always willing to share their knowledge, experience, and expertise to point us in the right direction. These counselors and tutors provide guidance, support, tools, and feedback that contribute to our growth and improvement.
"A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself." — Oprah Winfrey
Inner Work First
Knowing what role a mentor serves in your life, it’s time to pick the right person for you. How does one go about doing that? How can you find someone whose mission and advice resonate with you most?
First, you need to define your field. What is it that you want to do professionally? What are your dreams, goals, and plans? What is your purpose? What brings you a sense of fulfillment? Where do you want to be in a year, in three years, or in five? Narrow down the domains of life with their various categories to pinpoint what you need assistance with.
Then, own your space in the universe. If you want to develop under somebody’s mentorship, you need to be willing to expand and take up as much room as necessary for change to happen. That means courage, candor, and dedication. Create proper conditions for seeds to grow. Can you do that? Perfect.
Where To Find The Right Fit
Now, look around you. The world is your oyster. Search for people who already do what you want to do and possess wisdom you want to get. Trying to take your startup to the next level? Attend professional networking events or volunteer at industry meetups. Need help getting healthier? Personal trainers, yoga teachers, and nutritionists will be happy to help. Seeking spiritual awakening or ways to develop a growth mindset? Well, you’re already in the right place (wink). With social media and other online options, you may be one click away from falling under somebody’s wings.
Keep your eyes and ears open. Study the lives of high achievers, invest in learning from what they made available to the public, i.e., books, podcasts, interviews, articles, workshops, YouTube channels, etc. Imitate their routines to step into their shoes for a while and assess if they are the right fit for you.
The More The Merrier?
Nobody’s perfect. Even if you had Albert Einstein himself as your mentor, somebody else would still know something the most famous physicist never did. There is always more than one well you can draw your wisdom water from. Cherry-picking can be a great approach to finding mentors, especially online where both remarkable and shady counsel thrives. Follow your heart, listen to reason, and learn to say no to people who claim to have all the answers. Synthesizing bits of knowledge coming from various sources is much healthier.
Also, remember that age is merely a number. Avoid rejecting someone’s mentorship on the basis of how old or young they are. We go through different experiences at various stages in life and at our own pace. Who says you have to be a hundred years old to earn the badge of a sage? Those of us who remember listening to music from cassette tapes might already have something to learn from youngsters who received a Spotify account for their tenth birthday.
Ignore social hierarchy, accept that your peers and colleagues can mentor you as well. Because they are much closer to your challenges than someone far ahead of you in life, they can relate to you more easily and accurately. And if you learn from your mistakes, you can be your own mentor, too. Expand your horizons in all possible directions.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
Having access to so many people can sometimes make it challenging to determine whose values and beliefs align with our own. The best strategy is to search for authenticity. Thoroughly analyze your candidates for truthfulness, reliability, and honesty. Take time to learn what they stand for and run the other way at the slightest sign of hypocrisy or deceit. Underneath their extensive knowledge and proficiency, mentors should simply be decent people. Guiding others is a lot of responsibility and you need to be able to trust that your chosen ones have nothing but your best interest in mind at all times.
Win Your Mentor Over
Mentorship is all about learning and it’s a two-way street. While you benefit from your mentor’s teachings, they practice their counselling skills on you. Yet, in order for this win-win situation to work, there are some ground rules to uphold.
"In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn." ― Phil Collins
Avoid approaching anyone for money or funding for your business idea. The fact that your mentors are willing to share their expertise and experience with you is generous enough. Smart people are often busy, stretched to their limits with new endeavors, and their time is more valuable than gold. Persistence can get you far, yet cold calls and emails never work. Walking up to somebody and asking them to be your friend is not going to grant you any points either. Think of how you can be of value to them.
You need to earn your mentor’s respect through meaningful action. Start with a small request for ten minutes of their time. Ask them three specific questions. Offer something in return for their mentorship. Show up early, take responsibility, be proactive, and keep in mind your mentor’s time and attention is a gift. Be a valuable, thoughtful, and engaged student. Cultivate the relationship to make it mutually beneficial. Give to receive.
Happily Ever After
Finding a mentor has the life-altering potential to open up a whole new chapter in your journey. Personal guidance can illuminate the road in front of you, rewrite your narrative, and enhance your reality in ways you’d never expect. Seek out wisdom. You might be one handshake away from living your best life yet.