Finding the right mentor is difficult, if not impossible. Too many of us have been hurt in our past by "mentors" who have had selfish motives and have misused or even abused us. The resulting hurt causes us to withdraw, even from the very people who could help us the most. Although I am a huge advocate of growing yourself, nothing can replace a good personal coach or mentor.
We all have blind spots, areas in our lives that we need to improve on and that we are simply naive to. Reading books, or going to seminars and conferences will not uncover most of these blind spots. Only a trusted mentor will be able to lovingly correct us. So, how can we find the right mentor? And when we do find them, how do we approach them to help us?
Here are ten tips for identifying and recruiting the right mentor:
- Determine the specific dream or area of your life for which you want a mentor. Be specific. Set goals. Remember a dream without clearly defined goals is a fantasy. What do you really want? What desires do you have personally, professionally, in your marriage, with your children, or in your ministry? If the answers aren’t immediate, you need to clearly define your goals. I would suggest doing a little exercise that really helped me clearly define what I really want. The exercise is simple: begin the day by writing down your top 10-15 goals. Then tomorrow, without looking at yesterday’s list, write your top 10-15 goals again. And do it again the following day, and the next, and the next, for at least 30 days. Each day, write your top 10 without looking at the previous entries. This practice will help you refine what is really important to you and what is just an emotional whim.
- Create a list of potential mentors for each area you’ve decided on. Right any name that comes to mind. This is a dream list. Even if you think there is no possible way for you to connect with this person, write their name down anyway. Who is doing what you dream of doing right now? Who has gone further than you in the chosen area?
- Starting with the mentors at the top of your list, write down the status of your current relationship with each one.
- Write down everything you know about that person through either personal experience with them or through second or third-hand knowledge.
- Research everything you can about your potential mentors. Read everything they write. Follow their blogs. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Listen to every presentation they make. In other words, the more you follow them, the more you will get to know them and their hearts. Once you follow them in every way, you will feel like you are getting to know them. When you get to this point, you can better determine if this person's heart, values, and dreams align with yours and whether or not you want to continue to follow them and if they are truly a desired mentor.
- If they’re mere acquaintances or strangers to you, do you know anyone they know?
- Prepare to contact a potential mentor on the phone, or in writing with a brief proposal or request. It is always wise to be over prepared when first contacting a potential mentor. Make sure you make it clear to them what it is you wish to learn from them. Also, what will mentorship look like? How often will you meet? How long will you meet? Where will you meet? What else are you willing to do in order to learn from them?
- Make the contact. Whenever you meet with a mentor come prepared with a list of questions. Ask the questions and then listen! Do not do all of the talking. Avoid the temptation to talk about yourself and your accomplishments. I cannot stress this enough. The purpose of having a mentor is to glean from them and their experience. So ask questions and then listen and be flexible enough to allow the conversation to flow from there.
- Follow up.
- Go to the next person on the list. If you get ignored or a negative response, try not to take that as a personal rejection. It might just be the wrong timing for them. Simply, be polite and thank them for considering it and move on to the next potential mentor.
Good luck in your quest! I hope you all find a great mentor and coach. For great books on the topic go to my blog post How to Mentor Someone.
Question: What is the number one reason you have not pursued finding a mentor? Leave a comment in the "Leave a Reply" box below.