Why Have a Mentor? by Jim Johnson

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Do you have a mentor? Do you know why it’s a good idea to have one (or more)?

Mentors can help you see yourself in a new light. Admit it – it’s easy to be myopic when it comes to you. We all put up blinders to faults and weaknesses. A mentor will see you in a far more objective way. That’s a huge benefit! You need this. I need this.

Mentors expose you to new thoughts, ideas, opinions. Think about it. If you always surround yourself with people just like you…if you surround yourself with reading materials that are always familiar…if you stay “comfortable”…how will you change/improve? Mentors can introduce you to a whole new world. Welcome this. Embrace this.

Mentors share their experiences and can help guide you through yours. An experienced guide is worth their weight in gold. Why re-create a wheel when someone can help you avoid pitfalls. Spending time with someone who’s “been there” is better than a formal education in many ways.

Mentors introduce you to resources that you may not have discovered on your own. Ask them what they read. Ask them who has had an impact on their life and then ask them why. You hear about books, articles, papers, blogs, websites that can open a whole new world to you.

Mentors can be honest with you when no one else is. They can show you things you are blinded to. In fact, ask your mentor to show you your blind sides.

If you have a mentor now, be thankful. If you don’t, find one. A mentor can be found at your company. If you are in a networking group, look for one there. Is there a community leader in your area that you could reach out to? Be bold in seeking out a mentor and asking them to get into this kind of relationship with you.

Some things to remember when connecting with a mentor:

* Don’t ask them to commit to more than 1-2 meetings a month.
* Keep your meetings to 1 hour at the most – respect their time.
* Be prepared for your meetings. If your mentor doesn’t set the agenda, then you should. Come with questions to ask and write them down in advance.
* If the person you ask to be your mentor doesn’t know what to do (I had this experience), then simply ask them to spend time allowing you to ask them questions about work, life, family, learning, etc. There is no magic involved. Just time investment.
* Agree on the length of the mentoring relationship. Try it for 3-6 months. Then do an assessment. If you agree to continue, great. If not, you did not waste your time. Thank them for investing in you. Tell them what you learned from them.

As you grow from a mentoring relationship, there will come a time in your life when you will become the mentor. Learn all that you can now.

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