choosing a mentor

In Search of a Mentor? Here’s 5 Things You Need to Look Out For

“Every great athlete, artist, and inspirational being has a great team to help them flourish and succeed – personally and professionally. Even the so-called ‘solo star’ has a strong supporting cast helping them shine, thrive and take flight.”

― Rasheed Ogunlaru

Truth be told, no one succeed by themselves. Behind every successful man and woman, there had been many who have helped them to become who they are.

In addition to family and friends who championed them on their journey, there likely to be one, two – or even a handful of people who have contributed to their achievements.

In fact, you’d be interested to know that a survey targeted to CEO’s found that 80% said that they’ve had mentors who helped them fast tracked their career!

Personally, I consider myself blessed to have had several mentors  throughout my life. Without their generosity in sharing their knowledge, skills, and experience, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be who I am today – and for that, I’m truly grateful.

Drawing from my own experience, here are the five top qualities that I believe every great mentor should have:

1. A positive mindset.

As a self-professed ‘eternal optimist’, it’s no surprise that positivity is something that I consider a ‘must-have’ in a mentor.

Even if you’re not a glass half full kind of person, know that energy is contagious.  Hence, it’s certainly in your best interest to look for a mentor who has a positive outlook and is passionate.

He or she should be someone who encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and keep believing in you – even in moments where you don’t believe in yourself.

2. The ability to give constructive feedback.

While its true that feedback has a bad rep for being negative,  as long as you’re able to weed out those that are constructive and those that you should blatantly ignore, feedback can actually act as a catalyst to your growth.

A part of being a great mentor is the ability to offer constructive feedback and be a sounding board to their mentees. The feedback that they give are intended to help others progress and improve.  This is because they take pleasure in seeing others succeed as much as they  enjoy their own success.

That said, they also understand that everyone learns at their own pace and that mentoring takes patience. Hence when giving feedback, they do not force their expectations or opinions to their mentees.

3. The willingness to share knowledge & wisdom.

If you consider someone to potentially be a great mentor, more often than not, they already have a full plate of responsibilities. Even so, if they are willing and accept to take you in under their wing, they will not take this relationship lightly.

After all, they know that their time & effort are valuable and will do what they can to ensure what they are able to help you to accomplish your goals during your mentorship sessions. A big part of this, of course, includes sharing the lessons and wisdom they’ve learned in their own journey to success with you.

4. The ability to set boundaries.

Though they believe the mentor – mentee relationship to be ‘sacred’, great mentors also have the ability to effectively set boundaries.

They make sure that mentees do not become co-dependent and rely on them as a crutch. Instead, they empower their mentees by giving them the space to make mistakes  which enables them to learn valuable lessons through their own experiences.

5. The commitment to walk their talk

If I were only give a single piece of advice to my *future* kids, it most likely be ‘don’t judge people on their appearance or what they say, judge them by what they do’. This also happens to apply perfectly when it comes to seeking a mentor.

A great mentor understands that their each of their actions has an impact and that its essential for them to lead by example.

Choosing the right mentor is crucial in shaping your future, both professionally and personally, so be sure to take your time. Observe their behavior and habits to evaluate whether they match what they ‘preach’.

If the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ and they happen to tick the other four characteristics I had shared above, perhaps it’s time to take the leap of faith and ask them to become your mentor! Best of luck!

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