One of my favorite shows to watch, when I get time to relax in the evenings is The Voice. Not just because I’m a big fan of Adam Levine and Blake Shelton but because the entire show is based around mentoring. I love watching the contestants focus intensely on what their mentor is suggesting to them and seeing in their eyes how much they want to succeed.
I’m a BIG believer in mentors, especially in your professional life. When I look back at the different chapters of my life I can think of many mentors that have come through my life.
- Mrs. Dunn – my baton coach for 7 years (coaches always seem to make good mentors).
- Joy – one of my college advisers who helped me figure out what I wanted to do for a career.
- Z – a friend who always made me think outside of the box and challenged me.
- Kimberly – a co-worker who I do not work directly with but whom I look up to and value her work style and work ethic
I have always had someone who I looked up too. I am always one for improving myself and I don’t believe you can always do it on your own. I believe you need someone to look up to no matter what age you are. Someone who has been through situations that you are going through and has good advice to share with you.
Just as they say you should choose your friends wisely, I think you should also choose your mentors wisely. When I look for someone to mentor me for a specific purpose I consider the following things:
- They have something I want
It might be their work ethic or their drive to succeed, or just the way they carry themselves, but there is something about them that I really admire. I wonder how they got to where they are today. I want to know how they got there, what challenges they faced and what their goals are for their future.
- They are the type of person who wants to help others succeed
Some people are just in it to win it and don’t want anyone to get in their way. They don’t have time for others. But most successful people like to see others around them succeed. That’s the type of mentor I want. Someone who wants to see everyone around them be successful and will help them out as best as they can to make it happen.
- They are not someone I work directly with
Now that I am older and pretty far into my career I don’t want my mentor to be someone who I see and work with on a daily basis. I want it to be someone who can give me fresh ideas and allow me to talk freely about whatever is on my mind. However, when I was in college this was a little different for me. My mentor was someone who I worked for part-time. This worked well for me because I felt she was preparing me for the real world.
- Someone I know will challenge me
I want to be forced to think outside of the box. I want to be asked questions like “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I had a mentor ask me that question once and she forced me to think of not just what I would be doing but where I would be living, what I would hear, smell and feel when I woke up in the morning. She was very specific and it was very challenging to think of the answers but it got me thinking of what I really wanted for my future.
- Someone who I am a little intimidated by
Sounds a little strange but I want to be a little fearful of my mentor. By fearful I mean I don’t ever want to let them down as I don’t expect them to let me down. I consider them (in my head) at a higher status than me that I am striving to eventually get to.
At the end of 2015 I felt like I was stuck in a rut with my career. I felt like it was going no where and I was bored at where I was currently working. I knew I needed some advice. I remembered attending this luncheon a few months prior where the keynote speaker told everyone in the room that no matter what age, you should have a mentor in life if you are always striving to be better. It’s an important way to help grow yourself. I knew the speaker personally as she worked for the company I worked for but in a different department. We have been talking ever since and she has given me some great advice.
It can be that easy….all you have to do is ask and if you choose the right person they will WANT to help you.