Last night I secured a very successful new mentor. Over the years I have acquired and in some cases outgrown many advisers. At various stages in life's journey my growth has required people of different types and skill sets. The last few years as I have gained more success in writing and media, I wanted someone who had a bigger worldview. I found him, and after months of careful and persistent courting he finally said yes.
Now the pressure is on me to be worthy. This person's time is extremely valuable. He is generous to share it with me but won't be for long if I can't show my appreciation for his value by progressing in positive ways. It helps to understand the value mentors bring to a relationship so you can make the most of their insights. Here is what you should expect.
It's easy to get lost in your own stories. Mentors have a fresh view. They don't carry your emotional baggage and can remain above the fray. They can look at your situation as if it were a slice of time and help you see it without bias.
Achievers tend to be decisive and process quickly. A mentor can help you step back and think through your roadmap before you veer off course. They will make you examine your own way of thinking to ensure your assumptions are not unfounded.
Just as you need to be challenged to make sure you don't do the wrong things, you also need an atta-boy or atta-girl when you are on the right course. When you are making good progress your mentor should be cheering you on the sidelines and giving you the energy to push harder.
The older they get, the more stringent your ways of thinking become. Those patterns are helpful for continuity but sometimes they can keep you from seeing the entire picture. Great mentors help you question the process to the finest detail so you see the landmines before you hit them.
At the age of 50 there are many things I do well. But there are plenty I could do better. A mentor helps identify those little tweaks and adjustments that will take you from being pretty good to being amazingly awesome.
The best mentors have personally experienced certain aspects of your journey already. They see many of the same things but through a different set of eyes and experiences. They can help you look at the same set of data and offer a variant on your view. Great mentors can help you to see a situation from many different viewpoints enriching your own.
You can only meet so many people and tell your story. It's much better to have some one who is well respected telling your story. Great mentors will introduce you into their network when you are ready. This is partly why they are careful about adding you to their world in the first place. Remember, it's your job to be worthy of the introduction and do your mentor proud.