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My Leadership Workbook
The Accompanying Workbook

Friday, October 19, 2007

Finding and Being a Mentor

Last week we talked about dealing with adversity, a topic that virtually every person will have to address many times. Part of the process of overcoming adversity is to find a mentor so the following are my suggestions:
1. Each of us needs different mentors for the different aspects of our lives: career, hobbies, marriage, parenting, and spiritual. Over time your mentors may change as you grow.
2. Decide what you are looking for in a mentor. If you are just looking for “connections” to grease the skids toward your goals, then you are networking, not looking for a mentor. A mentor may provide a connection here or there, but that is not their most important function. They are there for advice and to tell you what they learned on their path to your goal.
3. Tell everyone you meet your goals and aspirations. If people don’t know your goals how can they help? Besides, the more people who know your goals, the more that can hold you accountable to achieving them. Even if a person cannot help you directly, they may introduce you to someone or an organization that can help.
4. Join organizations related to your goal. Their members will have knowledge, expertise and people available to answer questions and maybe provide contacts.
5. Cultivate the people who express an interest in your goals and let them know their coaching is important to your success. Most people want to be helpful and while a few will refuse for one reason or another, most will help.
6. Once you have found a mentor be sure you set limits as to what each of you will do and make it clear that either one can walk away without hard feelings. This enables each person to decide for themselves their comfort level and how much effort each of you will put in the relationship.
7. You have already attained certain talents and education that you should be passing on to others. If you are a ten year old, maybe you can demonstrate to your younger sibling how to get in and out of Mom’s cookie jar without getting caught, and if you are 80, maybe you can mentor a 50 year old on how to age with grace.
8. Be diligent in providing the best mentoring you can. Be patient and kind (you probably didn’t get it right the first time either).
9. You may well receive far more benefit from mentoring than being mentored, so I encourage you to mentor others at every opportunity.
My point in this article is that each of us needs mentors in every aspect of our lives for support and help. Can you figure life out on your own without this help? Probably. But you will certainly be more successful the more help you have; besides, life is more fun when we work together!
Next week get your best duds on, we will be getting married!

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