Unlocking the value of mentoring
If you speak to any senior professional today and ask them how they became so successful. You would likely hear how finding a mentor heavily contributed to helping them get to where they are today.
Having a mentor unlocks the experience, knowledge and the networks needed to help you reach the next level. Whether that involves guidance that can support you developing professionally or personally it is imperative to becoming successful in life.
I have been lucky enough to have a number of mentors that have helped shape my future and guide me throughout my career. Now, I am fortuitous enough to be in the position to give back by mentoring the next generation of the best and brightest through sharing my experiences and advice so they can make the best possible choices in their life, as well as learn from my experiences.
This blog post will focus on the three principles that many people neglect when trying to find the right mentor.
1. Expand your network
They say it’s not what you know but who you know in life. The same can be said when finding a mentor or in many cases numerous mentors. When you think about what makes you different from some of the most successful leaders in the world. It is the fact that they have the ability to leverage a wide network that they have worked hard to build over time.
Think back to any elite or private school they have a variety of alumna or secretive clubs that always keep in touch to get the upper hand in life. They work as a support network for members that need help in their career or otherwise as a result they have become a staple to getting ahead in life. Just think about it! We all know that one person at work who got their job from knowing someone within the organisation or a position of influence. I have seen many forms of tightly knit networks in my time that have worked as peer to peer mentoring groups that empower members with privileged access to knowledge, contacts and resources that are as invaluable as having a mentor.
If you have not found your network of people yet, do not worry, it’s never too late. There are numerous ways you can be a part of or create a network that develops an environment that supports learning in the form of meetups, masterminds and other groups that have like-minded people. It is important not to just think about mentoring as someone more experience passing on advice. I have often become a better person from learning from people that are at a similar stage as myself or even less experience through reverse mentoring.
2. Develop a circle of trust
Being a mentor can sometimes feel like being a parent and involves investing time growing a relationship. The relationship behind a mentor and mentee is built by trust that may take months to facilitate as there needs to be a two-way bond, where the mentee feels open enough to share their dreams, goals and aspirations with the mentor. And on the other hand, the mentor needs to ensure that any words of wisdom are not lost.
Like any relationship in life, trust is the foundation needed to create a strong bond. Not every person makes a great mentor. You need to find someone that you feel comfortable disclosing your challenges and dreams with to get the most out of them. For me finding a trusted advisor that will listen to me and understand the best way to support my growth has always been a number one priority.
3. Think outside the box
As you can tell by now having a mentor can be one of the best things to boost your career, whether the objective is to support you in finding the right profession, help you grow in a current role or get a new job. I always try to find a mentor that can challenge me! This sometimes may prove difficult to find that one perfect person to guide you as a mentor as they may be too busy or highly desired by others.
There’s no need to worry! The world is changing and as a result, the emergence of more T shaped people with diverse skill-sets is becoming more important. These are people that have a core understanding of one area but also have a wide-ranging set of skills across other areas.
Just focusing on mentors within your current or desired industry may lead to a missed opportunity to learning something new from an expert in another discipline. When I think back to the people that have influenced me the most as mentors they came from completely different industries and had a completely different way of thinking to me.