Once Mentored, Always Mentored
High achievers in the professions, academics, sports, politics and government almost always have people in their lives who support, encourage and advise them. I began to notice them in college, those students who always seemed to be talking to the professor after class, then walking across campus with them, or meeting them for coffee. We had an expression for these students and it wasn’t flattering. Our attitude rose mostly out of envy that they were the favorites and we weren’t.
People like these are in every walk of life. They are the ones who seemed to know how to get ahead. They were the ones who were confident enough to make sure they understood what the professor was really talking about, the ones who got the advice and tutoring. More to the point, they are the ones who had a mentor, that person who not only coached them but could be their captive audience, who they could be open with and be themselves. They saw the value and went after it.
I have noticed that once someone has a helpful mentor, he or she tends to always make sure they have an active mentor in their lives. There will always be those bold enough to seek out a mentor. But there are many times more who for one reason or another, will not feel ready for the solitary hunt. And that’s where organized mentoring programs come in. If the company or the organization has a mentoring program it will do the initial hunting for you. Formal mentoring programs are great for supporting the company’s employee developement goals, increasing retention, supporting leadership succession and many other clearly valuable corporate missions. But I’m convinced that what may be the most important product resulting from having had that first mentor is that it can release the budding star in all or us and make us into that confident, growth- and achievement-oriented individual who has the courage and conviction to continue seeking mentors and benefiting throughout our careers and our lives. Once you know the value of being mentored, all it takes now is to approach the person and say, “I admire what you have been able to accomplish. Would you mind if I call you occasionally and ask a question or bounce an idea off you to broaden my perspective? You know, like a mentor. And I promise not to be a pest.”
Larry Ambrose –