3 Tips for Mentorship
How to Learn From the Best
by Jessica Johnson
The average person will spend 90,000 hours or a third of their lives at work. With so much time spent cultivating your career, there’s one thing that all successful people have in common: mentorship. No matter who you are, you can always benefit from a little advice or professional challenge here and there. That’s what a mentor does. The right mentor will help identify your blinds spots as you work to achieve your goals. But it’s a delicate balance. Getting advice from someone doesn’t make that person a mentor. If you’re on the hunt, here are three things that may help you on your journey.
Look outside the norm.
After spending countless years (and racking up countless debt) in school, it’s easy to think that you can only benefit from someone older, who’s in the same industry, in the same building as you. This is false. Over 2 million people are inspired by Kid President YouTube videos. Many industry giants offer online master classes and workshops that allow you to absorb key insights. A mentor can be a peer who’s excelling in finance while you work in marketing, or your uncle who has owned a plumbing business for 20 years. Ask yourself these key questions:
- Who do I know who excels at what they do? Do I know how to reach them?
- When is the last time I networked with people outside of my office or area?
- How often to I take webinars or look online for inspiration?
The idea is to find a person whose career and drive you admire and whose teachings will make you better. Be creative in your search.
Check in consistently, but be considerate.
With the 24/7 lives we lead, it’s hard to maintain a regular meeting date with anyone. But as the cliché goes, people make time for what’s important. If you want to get to the next level, you should make time for meetings, trainings, and whatever else you need to achieve the goal. You must also put that same energy into being a mentee. If your time is precious and scarce, keep in the mind the same is true for your mentor. If your mentor can only meet via Skype once a month, make sure you’re on time for the call. Your relationship with your mentor is just like any other relationship: You get what you give.
Make sure it’s a two-way street.
While your goal is to learn and grown under your mentor’s tutelage, make sure your relationship isn’t one-sided. If you’re constantly coming to your mentor with problems and no solutions, they may reconsider taking you under their wing. You may not feel you have much to offer a professional, but don’t underestimate yourself. Simply sharing an article you read, offering to show them a new piece of technology, or inviting them to an industry event could help strengthen your mentor-mentee relationship. If you get coveted one-on-one time with your mentor, don’t just ask questions — share updates on how the advice they’ve given has helped you at work or on a project. Let them know they haven’t wasted their efforts on a slouch.
There’s nothing more human than admitting that you need help — especially when so many are fighting to be the top gun. Finding a great mentor and, in turn, being a great mentee is one way to stand out and stay on target.