A mentor is someone with experience and knowledge that chooses to teach and guide someone else. Very often, this passing along of wisdom constitutes a legacy with long-lasting results.
Choosing a mentor for yourself and being a mentor to someone else are frequently life-changing and life-affirming activities. In fact, choosing a mentor may be the greatest career decision you ever make, while being a mentor can be the most rewarding activity in which you ever participate.
Here are a few tips for how to go about engaging in either of these aspects of mentorship.
Choosing a Mentor
Do your homework. Your professional association may set up peer mentoring teams among its members. Ask around and do some research to see if this service is available to you. Choose someone you have watched in action and admire—someone who has already been a mentor to you without even being aware of it.
Experience counts. A proven track record is a quality you may want to look for. Choose someone who has experience being a mentor. This can be someone you have heard of through word of mouth or through a professional mentor-ship program. If the person has successfully mentored people before, this is a good indication that they can successfully mentor you.
Use referrals. As in any business, if someone is good at what they do, others will refer them. If a mentor gives you referrals, make sure you check them. You are making a decision to change the direction of your life for the better. Choose wisely.
Being a Mentor
Be aware of the needs around you. Awareness is an important attribute of a mentor. If you want to be a mentor, make yourself aware of the needs around you. Challenge yourself to offer the best part of who you are. If you had a mentor earlier in your career, consider the benefits you have gleaned and pass them on to someone else.
Assess the time commitment. Deciding how much time and effort you have to commit to someone is imperative. How much of yourself you choose to commit can be the most important factor in being a successful mentor. You are making a commitment to invest in another person’s future, in order to build them up. It may be one of the most important decisions you ever make.
Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Recognize you have something to offer and people out there need it. You have experience and insight from which others can learn. That alone gives you the ability to mentor someone else. Reflect on what you have done and how far you have come; only then will you begin to realize how much you have to give. Be confident.
Being mentored or being a mentor can change the course of your life. Recognize that you are investing in the future and that your instructional leadership and influence does not stop at you. If you are being mentored, or if you are a mentor, you can leave a legacy.