How do I find myself a mentor?

Is a question often asked by anyone fully invested in their development.

Because a mentor offers experience, encouragement, growth and many other benefits, it’s no wonder they are so highly sought.

From observation, I notice a lot of people make the same mistake – they desire attaining a mentor for the sake of having one.

Make sure you don’t make this mistake.  When you ask

“How do I find myself a mentor?”

What you should really be asking is

“How do I find myself a mentor, good for me?”

At various points in my life so far, I have been blessed with experiencing the tutelage of not just one mentor, but two.

Both were high quality, offering a diverse range of perspectives, helping me to progress.

Both came into my life in entirely different ways.

The “mercenary” mentor

Upon desiring this expertise, you may want to consider seeking a service which pairs mentors and mentees together to start the relationship.

This was how I met my first mentor, who was assigned to me as part of a work graduate placement scheme.

Her purpose was to support and guide me in this early stage of my career, putting in development plans and offering regular advice with arranged phone calls.

In this pairing, I felt quite lucky as she was a professional life coach, whose gentle questioning approach, influenced and challenged my mindset, resulting in me addressing some negative traits in my personality.

This type of relationship is very formal, and although you may get on with your it does feel like you are carrying out a business transaction, where when the required service has been provided (usually by achieving a desired end goal),  the relationship ends.

This is exactly what happened in my situation, as upon completion of my graduate scheme, my mentor moved on to work on the next client – the impersonal approach of “it’s just business” is why I liken this type of mentor to a mercenary!


The “brotherhood” mentor

A second approach is something more natural – when I first met my current mentor, I never realised our relationship would develop in this way.

In many ways I never sought the support of mentorship, it’s started simply as a work colleague who would check how I was progressing.

After he left to work elsewhere, I maintained contact and a friendship grew from it.  As we shared similar backgrounds and shared goals, it  grew with an unwritten assumption that he was mentoring me.

The main disadvantages of this type of mentorship, is having a friend guide you isn’t always ideal if you want a total honest opinion.  The lack of neutrality also makes it difficult for them to detach from a situation if you share the same biases.

And of course a mentor gained through friendship, with it’s informal approach can be complex when catching up to balance the professional with the personal, especially on certain days when you are desperate for advice, but don’t want to violate the boundaries of friendship.

Despite this, from the two approaches I prefer the organic approach of a “brotherhood” mentor, the advantage being it allows you to be fully relaxed to be totally open and honest in discussions.


What makes a good mentor?

Good Will Hunting – Miramax Productions

Whether you find a mentor through a match making service, or build one through common ground, the main thing is that they are good for you.  Therefore a good mentor should:

  • listen
  • make helpful suggestions
  • boost confidence
  • carry the role motivated to help others, rather than for personal gain
  • humility – may not even refer to themself as a mentor, even when performing these duties
  • experienced / relevant skills to teach to mentee

A mentor relationship shouldn’t start for the sake of it.  Ensure that there is a connection and although I recommend having a mentor who is also a friend, don’t let business ruin a quality friendship.

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