Insights into Finding a Mentor

Mentorship is one of the primary pathways for growth in my life.

I’m fortunate to have some great people in my life that continue to shape how I think (mind), what I value (heart & passion), and how I get things done (skill-set). I learned early on that what I deem to be “success” will have a direct correlation with the kinds of people investing in my life. I always have my eyes open for individuals who embody the kind of life that I hope to live. People of deep compassion, unwavering integrity, innovative thinking, and undeniable generosity inspire me.

In seeking mentorship, I’ve found the following thoughts to be helpful in finding the right mentor:

  • Mentor Your Strengths – Too many people focus on strengthening weaknesses and overlooking the need to strengthen strengths. While it’s important to get help in areas of one’s weakness, I’ve found that mentorship works well when you’re working on strengthening your strength. I think this context will also inspire your mentor to be more engaged since the questions you bring up are probably what they have considered or continue to ponder. It’s definitely not a bad thing to have some mentors that help you develop your weaknesses. Nevertheless, don’t forgot to engage some that will strengthen your strengths and help you go from good to great.
  • Take Time to Explore Mentorship Expectations & Objectives – Most, if not all, mentors you seek are probably extremely busy! You may want to take some time and develop a realistic plan for engagement. Be clear on why you think they would be a good mentor and gauge their level of interest by asking them. How often are you hoping to connect with them and why? In person? Phone? Email? Be upfront and be open to them shaping the experience. Also, be sure to clearly articulate what you hope to get out of the mentorship as well as how you hope to support or even contribute to their work. Never underestimate the value you bring to a mentor relationship.
  • Not Everyone Is A Good Mentor – Don’t confuse the public success of a person with their ability to mentor. I’ve found that there is NO direct correlation between a good public leader and their ability to mentor. If possible, find out who they’re already mentoring (or have mentored) and see if you can get in contact with them. Ask them about their experience and some of their main takeaways. This may help you gain insights into the main strengths of the mentor.
  • Don’t Rush Mentorship – The success of a great mentorship experience is often wrapped around timing. Given the ever-changing climate of our lives, no two mentorships will be alike. Be open to progressing steadily. Mentorship rarely happens at the speed you would like. Stay patient. The greatest benefit to having a mentor in your life is that you have access to them. That’s a gift. If they have committed to being your mentor, they want to help you. Just be sure to stay flexible on how and when they can be helpful. If they believe in you, they will make time.
  • Continue to Learn – I try to stay up on the lives of my mentors. Even if I’m not meeting with them in person regularly, I make sure that I’m reading their works, listening to their talks, and sending quick notes of appreciation or thoughts about their recent work. We’re all fortunate to have technology that allows us to stay connected. Why not use it?

It’s truly a privilege to receive mentorship from a person you admire. Therefore, it’s important that we make most of these opportunities and engage well.

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Charles is the CEO & Chief Idea-Maker at Ideation, a brand innovation company that specializes in helping businesses & organizations build remarkable brands via innovative business design, organizational change architecture, brand integration, design, web, and marketing services. He is also the author of Good Idea. Now What?: How to Move Ideas to Execution, a practical book designed to help people move ideas to implementation. Charles is regularly invited to speak to leading companies and organizations on topics such as creativity, innovation, idea-making, and branding. Executive leaders from brands including Wells Fargo, Toyota, The White House, Catalyst, William Morris Endeavor, mun2, Council of Urban Professionals, Chick-fil-A, and many others have benefited from having Charles present at their key events.