The secret of having a successful mentor/mentee relationship

First of all, let’s get to the most important point fast:

You don’t need just one mentor or the one mentor, you need a full “Board of Directors for your Life“.

If you are looking for a mentor and are asking the question, “where do I find a mentor?”, STOP RIGHT NOW! First, think about these two questions:

What type of person could possibly be my mentor?

What do I want to learn from her?

And now reverse these questions and you are a huge step closer to success:

What do I want to learn from my mentor/What problem am I trying to solve?

Who could be the person that could help me with my question/problem?

Many people who I have met asked to have a senior executive (many levels up in the work hierarchy) as their mentor, but when I asked them, “what do you want to learn from them?”, I get a blank stare or the very generic answer, “I want to know
how I can become a senior executive”.  Both reactions are not solid building blocks for a mentorship.

mentorNow, you see, a mentorship really is a relationship between two people who each have something to give and something to learn.

Therefore, start with what you want to learn. Maybe you want to learn how to give a great presentation in front of a large audience, or you want to get tips on how to be successful in selling your ideas, or you want to learn a certain skill. Maybe you want to switch careers and want to find out what’s the best approach.

Here are useful steps that will help you find the right mentor for you to solve a question or problem:

  1. Be clear on what you want to learn.
  2. Observe people and build a relationship with the person that is very good at what you want to learn. 
  3. Ask them for a brief coffee chat. 
  4. When you get their attention, be authentic and genuine, build a rapport, build a relationship. 
  5. Most people will be happy to help you. But it has to come from a place of authenticity. 
  6. Make sure to thank your mentor for giving their time. 

Many people often forget that a mentor doesn’t have to be a senior executive. Your peer can be your mentor. In fact, a much younger person with a different approach can be your mentor. Your focus should be to seek out people you can learn from irrespective of age or work status. You’ll be amazed how many people suddenly could become a mentor to you.

Coming back to my initial point that you need a  full “Board of Directors for your Life“.

As you walk through life you will find that mentorships are fluid and that you will need more than one mentor as you develop and encounter new questions and challenges. Be open to build many relationships and most of all don’t forget to pass it forward once you get approached by someone asking you to be their mentor.