Mentors and mentorship have long played an important role in the development of greatness among leaders. It has often been said that self made leaders are a myth. I believe that. I think those that think they are self made have a debilitating ego and will never be about to lead
The word mentor can be a noun or a verb meaning: An experienced and trusted advisor
I have had many mentors in my life and career. Some I recognized...and many I did not. Meaning I did not accept their help as being from a place of mentorship and guidance…..I was a younger-less wise person for many of my years. Life has a way of stripping that out of you, right?
I’ve had mentors in my personal life. I’ve also had mentors in business. The funny thing is that the lines are very blurred there.
My first “mentor was Rudy Thrower at an old full service station. Rudy’s (original, I know). I worked there early in my life. As in about age 6-7.shhh. Don’t tell the Tex DOL!
Mentors come in many shapes and sizes
Mentorship provides direct criticism. Because the mentor is not directly involved in the moment by moment activities, they can observe patterns better. They can see things objectively and provide unbiased clarity. Use an “oversized load” truck going down the highway as a metaphor. The “spotter cars” are there to observe things from afar. They are there to point out things and guide the truck driver using a perspective that the truck driver cannot see with his limited visibility. If you’ve ever been in a tractor trailer you realize the limited view in the mirrors. I have. I can only imagine how limited the visibility is when pulling an oversized load!
Interestingly… In the metaphor, the spotter cars are usually retired truck drivers with as much or more experience than the truck driver. They can anticipate possible issues or challenges and they know how to help the truck driver navigate those potential issues. A mentor is the same. They often have experience that you don’t and can help you avoid bad decisions or situations.
It is interesting to think back on mentors that have been present in my life. I didn’t always realize the mentorship in the moment. I now try to identify them sooner rather than later so I can be more focused on the input they provide.
In my experience mentors are selfless individuals. They provide insight and input without expecting any in return. They are very generous generally. While they are selfless, they display a level of confidence because they speak from a place of real experience.
Mentors are relatable while being direct. They provide concise and simple feedback but it is often presented in a way that resonates with the person being mentored.
It is important to do some research before hiring a mentor. While true mentors are selfless, professional mentors do have to pay bills like you. True mentors provide value far beyond the fee that they charge because they are selfless.
So what are some steps you can take to make sure you understand who you are hiring? Check references! Read reviews!
Don’t rush. Take your time researching (is investigating too strong?) the mentors' reputation in the space that they operate in.
Make sure they understand what you need, even if you do not.
We all have something to give to society. We each have a unique experience that could help someone else. We just have to understand that someone is waiting to hear from us. A conversation with an employee, peer, or client could be the next opportunity to share your experience. You just need to get out of the transactional/project mindset and carry the conversation just a bit further than you normally would. You are one or two sentences from opening up a tremendous opportunity to mentor someone with your unique experience on this planet.
I think leadership, mentoring and providing incredible guidance is missing in today's social economy.
Think about how you or others assuming roles or opening up to mentor others could absolutely change the entire dynamic at your company.
Check it out our podcast here: www.disasterpodcaster.com
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