Imagine that you want to move up to a more rewarding but challenging position. Or enhance your visibility and reputation in an organization. Or make a lateral move that requires skills you don’t have right now. Or change careers altogether. Or begin a career. Or choose between different and competing options?
Having someone who is not your boss and who really wants you to succeed in life can be SO helpful.
Without such a person in your corner, it is harder to build up your skill kit; polish your resume; test your ideas; anticipate changes in a particular industry; or take advantage of experience-based listening and guidance. Life without a genuine mentor is definitely more difficult.
At the same time, life WITH a good mentor can speed your progress; uncover talents you were not aware you possessed; answer questions that can clarify your thinking and action steps; develop your creativity and confidence in problem-prevention and problem-solving; and affirm you as a person interested in life-long learning and positive growth.
Why wouldn’t EVERYONE seek out a few good mentors along the way? Whether the mentoring is formal or informal, life with a mentor has a great deal to recommend it!
A little reflection about whether you are a KNOWER or LEARNER can make the all the difference in the world to successful mentoring partnerships. KNOWERS, as defined here, are those pretty much done with growth. But mentoring is about forming and sustaining learning partnerships. Learning opens minds; knowing closes them.
A mentee who’s working with a KNOWER can easily start to think, “If my mentor isn’t committed to learning and open to change, then why should I value any advice from this source about new approaches, risk-taking, or new ways of thinking?”
Here are some characteristics of being in the Learning Mode from Lee Thayer’s book, Leadership: Thinking, Being, Doing.
Thayer is the author who says that conventional thinking routinely leads to conventional results. Sometimes conventional results are exactly what’s desired–but very often, something better, less costly, faster, higher quality, greater benefit, larger presence, greater return–something NOT in the previous norm, is what is being sought-after.
So spend a few moments and ask yourself as a mentor if you are:
—-being open to contrary ideas or beliefs
—-asking rather than telling
—-growing rather than withering
—-assuming familiar patterns
—-and retreating from high value change.