Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Is The Value Of A Mentor?

For years, I have been fortunate enough to find really smart and talented people to help guide me. Looking back, I believe I am a better person because of their on-going support and open displays of leadership.

Most recently, I received positive feedback from someone I respect in the technology industry. The gentleman informed me that his support was not random. He knows what I am doing and encouraged me to continue. If you have ever been in a similar situation, you must know that this kind of support goes a long way and has lasting effects.

While we never formally acknowledged a mentor/mentee relationship, I value his leadership, as he provides a real life model to follow. Because of his experience in the industry, I have the opportunity to avoid certain pitfalls and capitalize on his successes.

To me, these are a few signs of a mentor. In life, I think we can have many mentors. There are some that are only around for a short time and then there those who guide us for life. Some help us in our careers while others lead us in more personal areas.

How Do I Find A Mentor?
Potential mentors are everywhere. From the leadership at work to the computer geek next door, guides surround us all the time. The question is who do you admire? By starting with people you know and look up too, you can begin the journey simply by asking for their advice.As time goes on and your relationship grows, you will find it easier to talk about the details and issues of the day.

What Role Do I Play?
As a mentee, I believe it is your responsibility to be the very best that you can be. People want to help those who help themselves and I think this applies to mentors as well. Remember, good people with something to share are often busy and highly engaged. This means their time is short and they seek to use it wisely.

Out of respect for their time and the years of experience they have acquired, one needs to be prepared and have a willingness to work. As an example, try taking the initiative to start a project and build it the best way you know how. If the project is good and shows sign of potential, the odds of getting attention from a mentor is good.

The important thing to remember is that a mentor/mentee relationship is a two way street. The person seeking a mentor wants to soak up knowledge, while a mentor seeks someone to share his/her experiences with. It is a mutual agreement that requires an investment from all involved. Therefore, as a mentee, carry the weight and do what is required, which allows the mentor to observe and offer support or guidance along the way.

Overall, I think the idea of mentoring is a worthy endeavor that everyone should experience. In the following video, I briefly talk about mentoring and share a few ideas on how to initiate the process. But, I would also like to hear from you. What are your experiences with mentoring? How has mentoring affected you? What tips would you offer? Let's talk about mentoring and the benefits it brings in the comment section below.



Until next time...

Image via Okinawa Soba

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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