Whether for personal growth or career goals, mentors play a valuable role in the lives of people looking to achieve new levels of success. Hiring the right mentor for your specific needs takes time and research to find the best person. In this article, we discuss the mentor role, how mentorships work and 10 reasons why you need a mentor.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is a person with specialized knowledge whom you may enlist to educate and motivate you, either in your personal life, your career or both. Similar to coaches and teachers, mentors guide less-experienced people through the learning process by establishing trust and modeling positive behaviors. Mentors differ in that they generally do not receive payment for services. Many mentors choose to help educate others because they understand the value of their wisdom and knowledge and wish to pass it on. Others enjoy the challenge of helping people achieve their goals.
How does the mentor relationship work?
A mentorship works much like an agreement. The level of formality depends on your desired outcomes. When you've taken the time to decide who you'd like to have in this role, schedule a discussion with your mentor to work out any agreement details. Knowing how much time this person plans to invest in mentoring you helps guide future meetings.
Informal mentorships may involve calls, texts or emails to your mentor when you need guidance. Formal mentorships may have a defined schedule that details the specific dates and times you plan to meet. What you choose depends on your unique situation.
Related: 9 Questions To Ask Your Mentor
10 reasons why you need a mentor
Here are 10 reasons why you need to find a mentor for your personal or business goals:
Mentors are valuable sources of knowledge. Whether you're starting a business, going back to college or changing careers, mentors have experienced similar milestones. Choose mentors who will give you the best insight into your current phase of life or career level. Because they have already been through it, they'll provide advice on issues like how to save money, reduce stress and be more efficient, for example, and be able to connect their experiences with your own.
Friends and family members may hesitate to provide the type of feedback you need to make a change in your personal or professional life. Mentors offer constructive criticism designed to strengthen areas of your life that need improvement. Without this insight, personal growth may take longer to achieve. Encourage mentors to tell you how you may improve your strategy to better reach your goals.
Mentors look for ways to encourage personal growth. Once they understand your skills and abilities, they may put you to work on a specific task to see how well you perform. Based on your performance, they might give you another challenge to test you or give you detailed feedback on what you did well and what you may improve upon. Mentors look for teaching moments that help you grow along the way.
Read more: 7 Tips for Personal Growth
Words of encouragement
When you need an extra boost of confidence, mentors offer support and words of encouragement to keep you going when life gets tough. Without a mentor, negative thoughts may become more prominent in your daily life, especially when dealing with a difficult subject or issue. Positive encouragement helps motivate you to keep trying your best, despite the challenges.
Successful mentorships are founded on boundaries that define social expectations and make you feel safe. Mentors create healthy boundaries that work in your favor. For example, mentors help set priorities, define unacceptable behaviors and provide guidance regarding balanced work-life scheduling. Mentors help bring awareness to any issues that may be affecting your emotional well-being and provide solutions to overcome any negatives with boundaries.
Because mentors play a neutral role in your life, they have the ability to give unbiased opinions on subjects you care about. For example, if you have several ideas for a business venture but need help choosing the best option, mentors are great resources for advice. Drawing on their past experiences, mentors provide opinions that they believe fit your circumstance best.
The relationship between a mentor and a mentee must be built upon trust, honesty and transparency. When you need someone you can trust, having a mentor as an objective third-party is a great resource. Mentors work to earn your trust in a variety of ways that include showing up to appointments on time, listening to your stories and keeping your information confidential.
If you need help setting and achieving goals, mentors are the perfect allies to keep you accountable. Your mentor can help develop your career by setting new goals for you and providing clarity on how to take action. When you first begin the mentorship, write down a list of goals that make you feel uncomfortable in a positive way. Know that this discomfort comes from a fear of change. Once you achieve your goals, notice how this fear transitions into excitement.
Working with a mentor is life-changing because it helps you understand who you are and what you want to become. While mentors are not therapists, they help promote feelings of awareness and discovery that only come through conscious effort. Once you've experienced life with a mentor, you may want to share your experiences with others too, which helps you become a better leader yourself and provides you with a new perspective on life.
Mentors commonly offer to share their network connections with their mentees. When you enlist the help of a mentor, you increase your chances for new professional contacts, which may lead you to new opportunities. If your mentor plans to attend business conferences and seminars with you, show your interest in meeting new contacts.