Having another human to serve as a mentor throughout any phase of your life is a super powerful addition to your life. Having a mentor should provide you with a more experienced and knowledge that you just haven’t had the opportunity to learn yet. Finding a mentor isn’t something you just find at your local store or online mega warehouse. It’s a true evolution of a relationship that is often determined by the mentor before you even realize it.
- Mentorship is a relationship, but it isn’t dating
- Don’t ask someone to mentor you, it naturally happens
- Mentorship are last longer than you might realize
I’ve been very fortunate to have a number of people in my life who I have considered to be mentors. Some have been in my life for just a few years while others have been along for the ride for nearly 15 years. Each one has brought something different in their unique way, but each one has left an impression on me.
Mentors Find You
The most impactful mentors in my life have very naturally come into my life. From internships, part-time jobs, volunteerism, or just being in the right place at the right time, opportunities could arise any time.
The mentor is often looking at you in a slightly different light than how you look at yourself. They can see what you can currently do or what your skillset currently is, but they are also trying to look at your character and your overall potential. You might have some self-confidence and drive, but others can often see how the thoughts can translate to actions. It’s the actions that show true colors.
If the potential mentor believes that investing more time and energy into you is worth it, the seed of a mentorship is planted.
Give it Time
Any proper mentorship needs some time to mature. In my experience what often begins as a boss-employee relationship or even just two acquaintances can turn into more of that mentorship style we’re looking for. It needs some patience for both sides to get on the same page at their pace.
It’s also common for someone to introduce you to someone who they feel would be a great mentor for you. This might be because of a shared interest or a similar experience. The same concept applies here too. You have to give it a little time. It might work, but now two people have to get to know each other and figure out where that right balance is.
It’s Not Dating
In my experience, while it is a relationship, having a mentor is not like dating. There isn’t an “ask” in mentoring. Personally, I feel asking someone to mentor you isn’t the right step. You put the potential mentor in a strange spot. They might not be feeling it and feel pressured to say yes. Or, they say no and then things are just awkward.
That ask goes the other way as well. A potential mentor shouldn’t be asking to mentor you. That crosses the line a bit.
Outside of family, I certainly have two key mentors in my life. There are others, but two stand out from the rest. We have never talked about them being a mentor or anything associated with it. We talk about anything from our professional relationship, personal relationship, and always challenge each other. We can speak openly, be honest with each other, and ensure we’re learning from each other.
Nothing Lasts Forever…or Does It?
The two previously mentioned mentors have been in my life for 15 years and 8 years. Others have been around for a limited time and then life has taken us in different directions. A few of those I still keep in touch with from time to time while others I haven’t heard from in years.
If thing start to fizzle out, that’s fine. You also might be surprised when you get a phone call out of the blue from one of them years later. In a sense, these relationships usually don’t come to a hard end. They fade down a bit or they hit a pause. Keep that in the back of your mind.
You never know when you might need them and when they might need you. I’ve received calls out of the blue from individuals who have played that mentor role years after we last talked. They were looking for a little help and knew I’d be able to fill that void. It helped further my career along and has led to great things since then. While we didn’t talk on a regular basis, or even see each other, I was always on his mental roster of options. He knew when the time was right to reach out and rekindle things.
You never have all the answers. Many people don’t. With a little help, you’re heading in the right direction.
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