“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Mentoring is a lifelong process of giving and receiving in a never-ending role as both a master and apprentice. This is a gift for those who value the power of connection. Great musicians, talented athletes and world-class speakers all learn early that to be successful they must engage a mentor.
Successful people of all walks of life realize that they cannot be their best without someone who will test them, try them, and challenge them. But finding and engaging a mentor does not happen by chance. It requires you to be intentional thereby getting outside your comfort zone to seek and meet those from which you would like to learn. In my years raising my children I imparted in them that they should always be open to learn from others. Limiting them to only what I could teach them would be short sided to say the least.
A successful mentorship relationship needs equal parts utility and emotion. You can’t just walk up to someone and ask them to be your mentor. It may be that you notice someone you admire. Look for ways to add value to their lives. Often times your interest and passion for learning serves as an inspiration for them.
Five ways to engage:
- Be a good listener
- Be curious and willing to ask good questions
- Add value to them.
- Be authentic
- Respect them – but don’t put them on a pedestal – they failed their way to this place.
Let me tell you a story about Deb who I met while she was a professor at my local university. She was a business coach and I truly wanted her as my mentor. I took every opportunity to add value to her so that she would be willing to invest in me. I volunteered when she did workshops and was always available. Apparently she saw something in me and over time we developed a close and lasting friendship. I am a better coach today because of this relationship.
As you continue through life and continue to stretch yourself by reaching up, remember to reach back as far so that you bring others along with you. Mentoring is the most rewarding thing you will ever do. If you want to be significant……..find a mentee……become a mentor!