Do you have a mentor? It’s important to be able to answer that question. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have someone speaking influentially in my life. I look back and think of my mother, who always told me how important constructive feedback is. Or my Aunt Mooney, who caught me throwing a dirty penny away and taught me the value of money and how eventually over time it all compounds.
My parents always told me that I should be able to learn from anyone I encounter, regardless of their age. As I grew older, my grandfather told me to tap into my entrepreneurial spirit, and my business coach for 13 years, Jules Rapport — may he rest in peace — constantly challenged me to control my own destiny and pushed me to start my own business.
I could go on forever about the people who have graciously added to my life and encouraged me with tidbits of wisdom. But, most importantly, I want you to see that mentors have changed and continue to change my life.
We all need mentors. We all need people in our lives to help us see what we’re missing. These mentors are the type of people who can feel the hope we have in our hearts and help us bring those dreams to life.
Kathy E. Kram, the Shipley Professor in Management at the Boston University School of Management and author of Mentoring at Work, told the Harvard Business Review, “We used to think it was people at early stages of their career who needed mentoring, those just out of M.B.A. programs. Now we understand that people at every stage benefit from this kind of assistance.”
Our mentors help us tap into and reach the potential that lies within us all, by encouraging us to find the inspirational story that inhabits us and bring it to reality. Most importantly, these people should be those who are fulfilled by mentoring another person.
Naturally, you may wonder where to start. You may be asking how you might go about picking a mentor to help guide you. Here are five steps to finding the right mentor. Find that person who will help you reach your highest potential and stay on the road to success, the one paved with continual growth and self-fulfillment.
Step 1: Identify where you are stuck and where you need to grow.
Sometimes you can put your finger on this and sometimes you can’t. You may be saying to yourself, “Jon, that’s why I need a mentor, to help me with step one.” That is understandable and can be paralyzing at first, but a mentor will never fully work unless you do some of the upfront work. You must take some time to determine where you currently are. Where is your current state and where do you want to be? Get centered and determine your end goal. As you reverse engineer your goal(s), do your best to determine where you feel you need to grow the most.
Challenge: Make a list of the top three areas where you are stuck. Next to that list, write out where you want to be one year from today.
Step 2: Pick your first or next mentor(s).
I am a firm believer that everyone should have no fewer than three mentors. Many times, your mentors are around you and you don’t even know it. You can find mentors at work — those who excel in their position and are ahead of you in their career. Also, you could find a mentor among your friends, acquaintances and family. This is a place people forget to look for mentors because of the vulnerable elements of knowing each other so well, but great mentors can be found in these groups.
Challenge: Make a list of five people you would want as a mentor. Next to each of them, write out what each of them can help you with and how they can help you grow.
Step 3: Ask your mentor to be your mentor.
This step can be the scary part and the part where people begin to resist the process. Don’t hesitate. Commit to having and getting three mentors in your life. Whether it is for business, life, health or your spiritual life. Nothing is off limits.
Challenge: Call or e-mail at least one of the mentors of your choice. Ask them to go for coffee, but make sure to have a conversation on the phone to let them know why you are calling. Be very direct. Let them know you are looking to grow by having a mentor and you were hoping they could mentor you in whatever area you think they’d serve you best.
Step 4: Commit to the process.
Once you get mentors, you must commit to the process. Utilize them as resources, set up a consistent time to meet and talk to them, and surrender to being open and coachable to their mentoring. According to a 2013 Executive Leadership Survey by Stanford University, 94 percent of CEOs and senior executives said they either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, “I enjoy the process of receiving coaching and leadership advice.” Committing to the process will create a positive impact on your business and improve your well-being.
Step 5: Don’t stop showing your appreciation.
If someone is taking the time to mentor you, don’t forget to say thank you and express your gratitude on a consistent basis.
As Jim Rohn is known for saying, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Choose wisely!