Mentorship Is Not A Game
Mentorship is not a game of kissing ass or a way to get into the inner circle. If you treat it like a game you will get played. As with most fads, they start out as something great then it gets overused, abused, and watered down until it becomes a special on VH1.
Mentorship is that something great that has now become a buzzword and the selecting and use of a mentor has been watered down. I hear it all the time, "I have a mentor. He's the top salesman at my company," or "my mentor is my boss." I want you to stop and think about that for a minute. Does that person have a financial vested interest in you? If no, you need to ask yourself why they would care if you succeed and hit your goals? If yes, it is likely a negative financial vested interest and they want to do just enough to keep you below them. The mentor/mentee relationship has lost its original intent. We are looking for the wrong things in a mentor and expecting the mentor to do all the heavy lifting.
What To Look For In A Mentor: I believe in a holistic approach to finding a mentor. Someone who has the complete package at work, at home, and in his community. Are they perfect, NO, but they value and work to better themselves in all the areas that you are seeking success in. Here is a short list of things to look for when selecting a mentor.
Fruit On The Tree: Does your mentor have success in all the areas of life you wish to be successful in? If they have nothing in life that you want other than a job title and a paycheck, you probably shouldn't listen to them. They can't help you achieve your life goals.
Values: Do they have the similar values? We make decisions in life based on our values, so if you are trying to take advice from someone with different values, you will struggle to make the same decisions and get you will end up with different results.
Character: Do people like this person? There are a lot of "successful" people out there that are jerks. Most successful people have critics so be careful who you listen to. A good place to find out about someone's character is to look at their marriage, their relationship with their kids and how their kids behave.
Now that you have successfully found a good potential mentor, it's important to understand the elements of a strong mentor/mentee relationship.
Mentor/Mentee Relationship: What does a proper relationship between a mentor and mentee? There are certain expectations for each person. This is not a one-way street, but the onus is on the mentee to pursue the mentor. Here are a few keys to being a good mentee.
Pursue Your Mentor: Pursuing your mentor lets him know you are serious and you respect and appreciate his/her time.
Respect Their Time: Your mentor doesn't have time for you, they are willing to make time for you. Don't lean on them to tell you everything to do. They don't want to be your boss or your parent.
Listen & Apply: If you ask for help and advice and constantly do the opposite, why should they continue to take their time to help you? If you take advice from your friends, cousins, or roommates over your mentor, you are wasting their time. Listen, apply, and learn.
Associate: If your mentor is offering up his/her time for you to get around them and their tribe, you better be willing to prioritize your time to associate with them. If you aren't willing to tell the people in your life that aren't helping you get where you want to go that you've got plans, you aren't serious about being mentored.
Remember you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Pick a mentor that can help you begin to change the associations you have so that you are excited to be the average of the 5 people you are spending time with. Hopefully this helps you find a mentor that can help you progress and achieve your life goals. Like any relationship, this also takes work.