I can’t think of a major challenge or opportunity I have faced in my life without discussing it first with a mentor. I’m lucky to say I have had incredible teachers, coaches, coworkers, and friends all serve as my mentors and help me work towards achieving my goals. Identifying an individual to be your mentor is a really great first step, but the key is to build a successful relationship so that both parties can benefit. Keep the following tips in mind as you create your relationships:
Give it Time
Have you ever met a stranger who offered life-changing advice within the first ten minutes of knowing them? It doesn’t happen very often. Successful mentoring relationships take time to develop and build trust. Part of the beauty of a mentorship is that a mentor can tailor advice and feedback to help you reach your specific goals. Understanding you, your goals, and the obstacles you face doesn’t happen over a single lunch. If patience is a virtue, be virtuous.
Mentors are limited by the information you give them. They can’t really offer insight if they don’t know what is going on. Make sure you communicate well and often with your mentor whether it is a question, concern, recent accomplishment, or even new goal you set. If you don’t tell your mentor that you’ve recently set a new goal of going back to school for your Masters, how can your mentor share insight they may have on really great programs for you? You have to communicate. You don’t need to share your deepest darkest secrets, but it is important to keep your mentor in the loop.
Mentors are there to grow you, and often that means that they will give you feedback – more specifically, feedback you don’t necessarily want to hear. Take the feedback, process it, and see how you can use it to better achieve your goals. (Click here for more on receiving feedback.)
If you don’t have a mentor or you aren’t a part of an “official” mentorship program, that’s okay! Find someone you respect and want to learn from and ask if he or she is willing to be your mentor. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone within your industry or even someone you know well. Also, seeking out more than one mentor isn’t a bad idea either – different perspectives can be very beneficial.
Set goals you are motivated to achieve
We all set goals for ourselves. When talking with your mentor about achieving these goals, make sure these are goals you are willing and motivated to work for. Mentors want to help you achieve your goals, but they aren’t babysitters. You have to put in the effort. Let’s be real… if you want to run a marathon next year that means you have to be willing to actually go run…A LOT. So if you aren’t motivated to go run miles regularly, your marathon goal isn’t achievable, even if you had a world-class marathoner as your mentor. Having goals that you are not motivated to actually achieve makes it a waste of time for both you and your mentor.
Say thank you
Yes, you put in a lot of time and effort in order to achieve your goals and you should be proud of your accomplishments, but never forget who helped you along the way. Remember to thank your mentors for their time, advice, and dedication to helping you achieve your goals. Their contributions play a crucial role in your success, so make sure your mentors know you appreciate those efforts.
Sunday Jazz at the Witte – September 10
Texas Young Professionals Mixer – September 20
Texas State Meet the Firms – September 22
UIW Networking Reception & Career Fair – September 28
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The views and opinions expressed within this blog are those of the author(s)’ and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of ATKG, LLP, its owners, employees, or affiliates.