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Do you need a Mentor?

July 11, 2017

Do you ever wish you had a person to bounce an idea off? A person who you could ask that un-askable question? Who you could ask that stupid or obvious question, and know they wouldn’t laugh at you for asking?

There are many times in life when an older and wiser voice would be valuable. Sometimes, this person is called a mentor.

When you are a young adult, maybe even still in post-secondary education, you need a mentor to help you understand how to relate to people in the first full-time work responsibility. You also need a mentor to coach you through some of the challenging tasks of the job. Hopefully the situation can be mutually beneficial as you assist the older, more experienced professional in some of the technological challenges.

When you are an adult in your 30’s or 40’s you need a mentor to help you navigate life – work, marriage, family, community responsibilities and juggling all those areas in a 24-hour day! Someone who can share lessons learned, some from success and some from mistakes.

When you are in your 50’s or early 60’s you need a mentor to help you navigate success. You may have climbed as high as you can (or want to) on the career ladder, but still want to contribute in meaningful ways. You have seen your children mature and now grandchildren are coming and you need someone to help you enjoy them and invest wisely in the next generation. You also need to realize that you need to mentor others, if you haven’t begun already.

When you are in your senior years, you need to continue growing, but you should be sharing the wisdom of your experience – both successes and failures – with others.

How to Choose a Mentor

First and foremost, a mentor must be someone you respect. They may or may not be in the same career field as you. They probably will not have a similar situation as you, and they may not have much in common with your life experiences. But you have a great deal of respect for the person because you know their reputation in the company or community as a person of wisdom and integrity.

Secondly, a mentor must be someone who will share honestly with you. If the person already meets the first characteristic (above), they will likely meet this second requirement, though it should not be assumed. Sometimes a very well-respected individual will not want to share their challenges and errors out of fear their excellent reputation will be impugned. So make sure the person you ask to be your mentor is genuinely willing to share their life journey with you. All of their life journey – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Finally, a mentor must be someone who is further along the path. The goal of a mentor is not a friendship, or a peer-to-peer relationships, though a mentoring relationship may lead to a good friendship developing. Yet the goal of finding a mentor is to gain help from one who has already walked the path before you and can help you avoid the pitfalls, find help in overcoming or dealing with obstacles, and navigate the challenges.

So… do you need a mentor? I would suggest everyone needs a mentor.

The real question is, who can you find as a mentor that meets the above qualities?

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