By Mo Anderson
Donald Sadoway, noted expert on batteries and current [update] Professor of Materials Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, once said, “In a battery, I strive to maximize electrical potential. When mentoring, I strive to maximize human potential.” If you are not actively seeking mentors in the areas of your life that are most important to you, then you are not maximizing your own potential! Today I want to give you a tip for securing a mentor.
Who is a mentor? A mentor is a counselor, a trainer, and an advisor; simply stated, someone you trust, admire, and who is available to help you grow in life. In the words of Robert Frost, “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” The same might be said for a mentor – one who awakens inspiration in another that calls us to take action.
How do you locate that special person for yourself? It’s an incredibly easy thing to do! Start by identifying just one area of your life in which you want to grow. Then, identify someone you admire, from whom you’d like to learn, who has gone through experiences leading to a high level of success. Perhaps you need a spiritual mentor, a financial mentor, or professional/career mentor? Look for a mentor who is honest, who acts with integrity, who is articulate and an excellent teacher. Select a prospective mentor who excellent connections – these can make or break you! You want to shine! So, pick someone who is already soaring above the rest in that area.
Next, take this one easy step: invite your chosen mentor to lunch. You could have paid a consultant big bucks to hear to hear this advice; you never know until you ask. Call your mentor on the phone, go through the administrative assistant if necessary, and then be completely honest. Tell the person you admire the work they do, and you would love to have the opportunity to visit with them about their success. Everyone likes a free lunch, and most successful people like to help others find success as well.
The key to the mentor relationship is preparation. Prepare for that initial meeting as if it were going to be a double interview. You’re interviewing a fantastically successful person to learn if mentorship would benefit you, and they will also be sizing you up, to see if you are worth their valuable time in the mentoring process. This means, do your homework – study their background, learn their steps to the top, know their likes and dislikes, and understand the activities that are of interest to them.
Make sure you can clearly state what you’re looking for, be polite and gracious, and don’t hesitate to ask well-thought out questions. Don’t waste the potential mentor’s time! Remember that a top notch achiever has agreed to meet you for lunch and conversation – ask questions that count!
Mentorship is a win-win. John C. Crosby noted that mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction. You each have a great deal to gain from this process. So, be certain to make your mentor feel respected, and show that you are highly motivated by taking notes during each meeting. Not only will this demonstrate your interest, but it will allow you to have something to review later as you implement the advice you have been given. Your assignment is also to bring value to your conversation. Your new mentor will want to feel that the advice offered to you is valid and useful, but also that something of value has been received from you in return.
Plutarch said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” Stoke your fire and fuel your life with mentorship. Go find a mentor, today!