Find a Mentor for Success

Self confidence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become self confident you need to do three things.  1) Become an optimist.  2) Face your fears and act.  3) Surround yourself with positive people.

As I’ve mentioned before mentors, by definition, are positive people.  They are willing to give of themselves to help others succeed.  The April issue of SUCCESS Magazine has a great article on mentors and mentoring.

SUCCESS is my favorite print mag.  If you’re not already a subscriber, I suggest that you go to www.success.com and do so.  Every issue is jam packed with useful information on how to become the personal and professional success you deserve to be.

The SUCCESS article points out that most successful people – from Bill Gates to Luke Skywalker – have mentors.  The term “mentor” comes from The Odyssey.  Odysseus entrusted the care of his son, Telemachus, to Mentor when he set out to fight the Trojan War.  The best mentors will help you learn and grow by sharing their knowledge and wisdom with you.  In this way, you can benefit from their experience without having to suffer the consequences of gaining that experience firsthand.

I have been fortunate to have had several mentors in my life and career.  All of them shared several characteristics.  They all…

• Were willing to share their wisdom, knowledge, skills and expertise.
• Had a positive outlook on life.  They helped me through tough times and showed me how to find the opportunity in the difficulties I was facing.
• Were genuinely concerned about me and my success.  In addition to be knowledgeable, they were empathic.
• Really knew what they were doing.  I respected them for their knowledge and skills.
• Kept growing themselves.  All of my mentors were curious and inquisitive.  Sometimes the roles were reversed.  They asked what I was reading, and then read the books themselves – so they could learn and we could discuss the ideas.
• Gave me direct, constructive feedback.  They held me to high standards.  They congratulated me when I met their expectations.  They corrected me when I failed to do so – but in a manner where I learned what not to do the next time.
• Were respected by their colleagues.  Choosing someone who is highly regarded in his or her field or company is one of the best ways to identify a mentor. 
• Sought out and valued the opinions of others.  My best mentor always told me to listen most carefully to the people with whom I disagreed – in that way I might learn something.  And, he was right.

Here are some of the tips I gleaned from the SUCCESS article on how to get the most out of a mentoring relationship.

• Work hard to build a trusting relationship with your mentor.
• Make meeting with your mentor a priority.
• Demonstrate trust in your mentor. 
• Set goals for your mentoring relationship. 
• Review your goals and progress towards them frequently in discussions with your mentor.
• Follow through on commitments you make in discussions with your mentor.
• Ask your mentor for feedback – both positive and negative.
• Take this feedback to heart and use it to help you meet your goals.
• Ask questions in discussions with your mentor.  Listen actively to his or answers.
• Use the differences between you and your mentor – in perspective and style – to your advantage.
• Be willing to take risks to use the advice you get from your mentor.
• Seek networking opportunities – for both you and your mentor.  Identify opportunities from which you both can benefit.

The common sense point here is clear.  Successful people are self confident.  Mentors can help you become more self confident and to become a personal and professional success.  Do you want to find a mentor?  Just look around you.  Who are the people you admire and want to emulate?  Watch what they do, and do the same.  If you want to create a mentoring relationship, all you have to do is ask.  Go to the people you admire.  Tell them that you hold them and their judgment in high esteem and that you would like to learn from them.  Ask if you can impose on their time to get answers to your questions and the advice you need.  Everybody likes sincere flattery.  I have never had anyone turn me down when I’ve asked this way. 

That’s my take on how positive people like mentors can help you become more self confident and successful.  What’s yours?  Have you had any mentors in your life and career?  Give them a shout out by leaving a comment telling us how they helped you.  As always thanks for reading.

Bud

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