How to get the most from your mentor

mentor2So you’ve found someone who you think will mentor you…congratulations!  Now what?!?!?!  I’ve had the privilege to mentor many individuals through the years and here are my top 8 suggestions to get the most of of your mentor (and not spoil the relationship).

 

  1. Regularly scheduled meetings probably will lead to disappointment – Mentors are busy….usually incredibly busy.  Rarely do regularly scheduled meetings produce the fruit you think they will.  While you might have a few productive meetings, over time the routine will kill the benefit.  Don’t assume an “every other week” 1 hour meeting will be beneficial.  If you feel yourself leaning toward a regularly scheduled meeting consider if you are desiring an accountability partner instead of a mentor – there’s a difference.
  2. Quick check-in’s are key – 30 minutes with targeted questions are crucial.  When you schedule time with your mentor be prepared.  What are you going to ask?  What are you expecting to get? Be prepared!  Turn your phone off, don’t answer email and be focused.
  3. Write down what you hear – With pen and paper in hand, take notes.  Write down what you hear.  Clarify what you think your mentor is saying.  Stay engaged.  There are nuggets that will roll out while you are meeting and are easily lost unless you write them down.  Don’t type them…. write them…..
  4. Look for what to do and what NOT to do – Your mentor isn’t perfect and their suggestions may not be the perfect fit in your situation.  When your mentor gives you feedback don’t take that as the perfect answer.  Consider their option.  You might want to ask “What wouldn’t you do in this situation”, or other clarifying questions.  A mentor will only answer what they have experienced or learned, which may not work in your situation.  Look for situations that your mentor shares where they have failed in situations.  If you’re mentor doesn’t share where they have failed, then find another mentor.
  5. Ask for honest feedback on what they notice about you – You should be prepared to hear what your mentor honestly thinks about your situation.  If there is hesitation you won’t get the full fruit from the relationship.  Be prepared for tough, honest and gut wrenching stuff – and actually ask for it.
  6. Share what your future trajectory is – Most mentors want to help you on your path.  If you don’t share what you are trying to achieve and where you are on your journey you will just get buckshot advice.   What are you planning in the next year?  What do you think you are called to in the next 3 years?  Are you shooting for something that is currently out of reach, but would LOVE to have the opportunity to try?  Share all of those things.
  7. Follow your mentors advice if it is good – There is nothing more frustrating than to give advice that is good and have someone not follow it, and then ask you again for advice.
  8. Celebrate with your mentor – Your mentor is investing time into you.  When you reach a milestone or when you achieve success then let them know.  Your mentor wants to celebrate with you.  They want to know that the time they poured in actually helped you to achieve a milestone.  Send them a thank you every now and again, or better yet stop in and say “Hey that advice you gave me…. it was really good and it helped out”.

 

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