What To Look For In A Mentor

Today is Monday, so this post is on self confidence.

I tell my executive coaching clients that surrounding yourself with positive people is a great way to build self confidence.  I urge them to find a mentor, someone who can help them on their success journey. 

An article in the December 2007 edition of Chief Learning Officer Magazine (www.clomedia.com) says it well.  “In today’s competitive business climate, the need for continuous learning has never been greater.  At the same time, the hunger for human connection and relationships has never been more palpable…Mentoring combines learning with the compelling human need for connection.”

The origins of the term mentor are somewhat cloudy, but the story that I have heard most often goes back to Homer’s The Odyssey.   As the story has it, Mentor was the name of a family friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left his family to fight the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his young son to his friend, Mentor. Thus, the word “mentor” has come down through time to mean “guide, role model, or trusted friend.”  Mentors are positive people because they help others prepare for the future.

Typically, mentors are older than the people they help.  However, in this new world of technology, that is not always the case.  Andy O’Bryan is one of my mentors.  Andy is about 20 years younger than me, but he has some specialized knowledge that I lack.  Andy is guiding me through the process of becoming more adept in the Web 2.0 world.

In most cases, however, you’ll be looking for a mentor who is older and has more life experience than you.  Here are a few characteristics of what to look for in a mentor.

An effective mentor…

  • Believes in the potential of people in general and you in particular.
  • Is patient and tolerant.
  • Is encouraging.
  • Provides feedback in a positive, helpful manner.
  • Is someone who is held in high regard.
  • Sees the big picture.
  • Is willing to help you learn by sharing his or her successes as well as failures and the lessons learned.

Who do you know who meets these criteria?  If you know someone who does, latch on to this person.  Learn all you can from him or her.  If not, find someone who meets them and is willing to help you.

I believe mentoring is best done face to face.  However, as with most things, the web is changing how mentoring is done.  Recently, I signed up to be a mentor on iMantri.com, a social networking site that is designed to help mentors and mentees connect.  If you’re looking for a mentor, you might want to check them out.

The common sense point to all of this is simple.  Successful, self confident people surround themselves with positive people.  Mentors, by definition, are positive people.  Whether you do it in person, or on line, find yourself a mentor to help you on your journey of career and life success.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense.  I am not posting regularly on my www.CommonSenseGuy.com blog right now, as I want to concentrate on this one.  It is still up though.  Please don’t cancel your RSS feed as I will be posting there occasionally.  And, you can still get a free ebook version of my book 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations by visiting www.CommonSenseGuy.com

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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