Valuable Lessons on Mentorship
One of the keys to progress is the sharing of information between people. This is true in business, industry, politics, and other major forces that push our world forward every day. But it is also true on smaller scales, right down to the relationships between individuals who will become key leaders in each of these greater fields. Having a mentor and being a mentor are vital to your personal success and the success of those around you.
Mentorship can start at any age once the person is willing to lean on others’ experience and knowledge and is ready to begin learning about personal growth, leadership and business. It often starts at home with a family member. I have talked often about the lessons passed down to me by my father and grandfather. Together, they taught me that the most valuable things in your life are your character, integrity, and your focus on others. These lifelong values crafted what it meant to be a good father and a good husband. These lessons are the core of who I am, even before I enter business.
As I got older, people outside my family started to become my mentors. I remember the day clearly as I woke up early and dressed nicely for a much-anticipated breakfast. I was 16-years-old and I was going to eat with my girlfriend’s father who was the pastor of our church. What could have been a typical Hollywood-esque lecture turned out to be a conversation about growth, responsibility, never thinking too much about myself, and the fundamentals of success. From this man and many other mentors throughout my life I’ve learned so much and can say that any success I’ve had is because of the other people who have graciously poured into my life. A few valuable lessons I’ve learned from others are:
Be Proud but Be Humble
Not prideful, but proud. Give yourself credit for your accomplishments, recognize your personal value to a company, and know that you can do anything. Being proud is about putting the fear of failure aside and allowing the skills and knowledge you must have drive you to success. It is about proceeding as if success is inevitable. The key trait to embrace (and one that I’ve personally had the most difficult time harnessing when success occurs) is operating with humility always. Be proud, be strong but be a servant leader with humility.
Someone is Better than You
A careful balance with being proud, is knowing that there is always someone out there who is better at what you are doing than you are. Keeping this in your mind always keeps you hungry and will enable you to remain humble, open-minded, and constantly learning. You must keep yourself in the frame of mind that you are never quite there and that there is always something more to learn, to improve, or to do to positively impact others.
Have a Mentor
No matter where you are in your career, having a mentor is invaluable. As you progress in your career and life, you will come across new challenges. Having someone who can guide you through these new situations will lead to greater success.
But, how do you find a mentor? Before you search for a mentor you must do some internal searching. Figure out who you are, what you want from life and business, and what you need to learn to help get you there. The most important factor in choosing a mentor is to be very purposeful in who you choose.
Steps to Look for a Mentor:
- Identify the areas in business and life that are important to you.
- Get close to the people in these areas that you see elements of success by building a relationship either through networking or providing them with something they need. Give before you expect to get.
- Build relationships with the people who you respect. For example, if you are looking for someone to be a mentor for you in your family life, you might ask yourself: “Who is a great father?” Or in business: “Who is the best at what they are doing and how can I develop a relationship with that person?”
- Ask directly if they are willing to be a mentor. Mentorship is a big responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly and it’s an honor to be asked to be someone’s mentor. However, it also takes a lot of time. It’s possible that someone will turn you down simply because they do not have the time.
- One of the greatest compliments you can give someone is acknowledging that they have something you admire and asking them if they are willing to share that with you. For example: “You are so successful at finding ways to get your business positive press. Do you mind if I spend a couple times a month with you chatting about this?”
- Make sure you have time to spend with them. Having a mentor is also a big responsibility. They are giving you something that is highly valuable, their time and expertise. You need to ensure you can repay them with the same level of dedication.
Throughout life, you will have many mentors who will pass down their knowledge to you. This knowledge will craft your core values and your direction in business. Once you reach a place in life where you have learned enough to be someone’s mentor, it is time to start looking for a mentee. This could be as early as being in college and assisting someone in high school, or perhaps even earlier if the opportunity arises. The truth is, we are all always in a place where we can provide someone else with valuable time and knowledge that will help them succeed. The messages I share with others varies with each interaction, but there are a few fundamentals that come up each time.
Fundamental Messages I Share with My Mentees
- The importance of the relationships in your life, especially those between spouses and between parents and children.
- How to balance work and family and how to be intentional with the way you spend your time.
- How to be a family that builds up the children into strong leaders with solid core values.
- The importance of setting clear goals and objectives personally and in business.
- Lessons in business. How to take what I have learned and apply it to a new situation. How to take my experience and make it even better the next time.
It is important to keep in mind that a mentor is someone who will be available more than just to go over a strategic business move as a good mentor will teach you more than just how to handle a tricky business negotiation. Remember, when thinking about finding a mentor or becoming a mentor, be very purposeful in who you choose. When you find the right one, the value you will both get from the relationship will help you move forward in life and business!