Having a personal mentor(s) can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life.
There are many types of mentors in life, but many people I know doesn’t seem to understand their need for a mentor. Some others do, but haven’t the slightest idea of how to find one.
I have written in my last two posts about the roles of a mentor, as well as what a mentor isn’t. Those two posts serve as my foundation building blocks of inspiration for anyone interested to know more about mentors and mentoring process.
Today, I hope to share some ideas to help you in the process of finding mentors. I will share from my own experience as well as what I have learned from observing others.
I have listed it from the most personal type of mentoring relationship to the least personal one.
Intentional mentoring can be described as perhaps, one of the most effective mentoring relationship to have. A mentor is usually a person of influence, or someone who is more experienced in an aspect of life that you would like to learn from.
If and when such a person comes to you out of his own accord and offered to mentor you, I highly encourage you to take up his offer on it. Remember that a mentoring relationship, although highly rewarding, also require a great deal of patience, time and perhaps money invested by the mentor.
In a mentoring relationship, the mentor tend to be the giver rather than the receiver. It is safe to say that a mentor has almost nothing to gain and everything to lose. I said “almost” because I find that being a mentor can also be a very rewarding experience.
On the other hand, you can always go up to a person and ask to be mentored. That’s it. You only need to ask, nothing more, nothing less. Although, for most people, the biggest struggle is to ask. Chances are, if you have already decided that someone is worthy having as a mentor, they would understand the value of mentoring. The good news is that by asking someone to be your mentor, you honor that person, so you don’t have to worry about offending anyone by asking in a straightforward way. The person may not always agree to it but you have nothing to lose by simply asking.
In an intentional mentoring relationship, a mentor gives you permission and access to his / her time, brain and heart. The mentor allows you to ask questions, pick their brains, share ideas, discuss solutions, and perhaps, just pour your heart out as you share what is troubling you lately. In return, you allow your mentor to share their advice, share their personal experience, rebuke you, correct your attitude, challenge your false mindset, and be honest and candid with you.
Most intentional mentoring relationships happens in face to face meeting. Although it is easy to communicate via the many available social media platform on the Internet without having to meet face to face, I still consider a one-on-one meeting to be the most effective one . Why? Simply because we all still need that personal touch, personal meeting that isn’t separated by a screen. We need the hug and the pat on the back when we are down. I can write more on this but that will be for another time.
In a lot of growing and established companies, when a new employee first joins the company, a mentor is assigned to the new recruit. That mentor tends to be called a “buddy”. A buddy may be from the same team or from a neighboring team.
The buddy is tasked with the responsibility of sharing with the new guy many things about the company that needs to be learned, such as company culture, what to do and what not to do, where to find help, etc. The buddy also tends to be your first point of contact if you have any questions to ask that may or may not be related to the work that you do.
This positional mentoring may not necessarily only happen for new recruit, as it may also be established when you are being mentored by your superior to take on a new role or to be promoted.
Such mentoring relationship may also be established in a lot of non-profit organisations. In my case, I have many such mentors in my church.
Is it possible for intentional mentoring type relationship to be established within companies or organisations? Absolutely. It depends, however, on the leaders of such organisation to model and establish a culture of mentoring within the organisation.
With the ubiquitous-ness of Internet and explosive growth of social media, a new type of mentoring is born. Virtual mentoring is mentoring relationship, where you almost never get to meet your mentor in person, except for occasional exchanges of information by your virtual mentor.
As a blogger myself, I follow and learn from a lot of other bloggers who tends to be very generous in sharing information about what they know and what they have learned through their blogs, podcasts or webinars. In most cases, they encourage and generate discussion between themselves and their readers with comments section within their blogs or podcast platform. Such conversation may also happen through social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
In some cases, for a small monthly fee, they allow you access to a private community of people they mentor and a regular private time where you get to call and ask them questions directly relevant to what you need to know instead of having to wait for them to create contents that may be relevant for you.
In few cases though, they may host a live event in their area and you get to attend such event and hear them speak live.
If you are a regular reader and follower of my blog, I consider myself as a mentor to you. That is why I look forward to having an open and insightful discussion and communication with you through my writings and my contents.
One Way Mentoring
Before the days of internet, these types of mentoring are more common. I first bought my personal development, or self-help book back in 2007 when a leader in my church encouraged me to read books written by John Maxwell. That book was “Developing The Leader Within You”.
Prior to that I have never thought about learning by reading books or from anything else. I only ever used my textbooks in my university days for help in studying for exam, not to learn anything useful for my own growth.
I have since found many other ways to learn, such as buying CDs or DVDs containing teachings or sermons, subscribing to podcasts, listening to audiobooks. To this date, I still continue to collect and regularly listen to such materials without having so much of a personal contact with the author or the speaker of the materials I bought.
This is the least personal type of mentoring but it is by no means ineffective. Mentoring, after all, largely depends on your attitude towards learning and your humility. If you are humble enough to be willing to learn from anyone you encounter in life and is always ready to learn about anything in your life, then learning will be easy for you.
For a very long time now, I have decided to have a learning attitude in life. I listen intently, and emphatically to what others around me do or say and I learn to draw useful thoughts and lessons that I can apply in my personal life. Many times as I listen to people who are not my mentor in their speech and action I was able to draw helpful inspirations and thoughts.
As John Maxwell often said, “” I could also say the same thing about myself, “ ”
I have shared some ways of finding mentors above. I encourage you to make the year of 2016 a year where you will find an intentional mentor and build a meaningful, highly rewarding relationship. Or, if you already have one, be even more intentional in your existing mentoring relationship.
What do you think? Did you find your mentor through a different avenue? Please share your experience of being mentored in the comments below!