Most successful people can cite one or two key individuals who guided and helped them early on, and from whom they learned so much.  Mentors can be a significant part of our success.  People who have good mentors are lucky, right?  Luck is where preparedness meets opportunity.  We need to proactively seek mentors, and cultivate relationships with them, not wait for them to stumble upon us (although be open and ready for that if it happens!)

Anyone can benefit from a mentor.  An aspiring book writer of any age could certainly benefit from knowing successful published authors.  Someone seeking a career transition can connect and develop a relationship with someone who had succeeded in that newly targeted profession.  If I just want an attitude adjustment, if I want to know how to be more at ease and not stressed, I could find someone who is successful, but always embodies equilibrium and balance.

Especially if you are at the early end of your career, you want to find a mentor.

How does one connect with a potential mentor?  Look at the relationships you already have.  Who has their act together, and displays openness and friendship to you.  Who shows an interest in you?  Who seems to genuinely care about you, your accomplishments, your self-actualization?  This is an ideal prospect.  Spend more time with that person.  Ask them things you don’t usually think to ask.  Pick their brains!  You will be surprised how simple it is to cultivate a mentor relationship.  Most people are flattered and happy to be of value to someone else.

If there is no one in your own personal circle of contacts, consider a professional organization or society you already belong to, or could easily join.

If you have already “been there, done that”, and are successful, seek out opportunities to be a mentor.  Pay it forward.  Offer to chat more with less experienced people in your own organization, or even the children of your colleagues.   Engage in Netweaving, and introduce people to someone else who can be of value to them.  Good mentors don’t really tell their mentee what to do – they help them discover solutions on their own – they empower the mentee.

The world is just one big community, and it takes a village to succeed at many things.  Make sure your village is populated with special people who are ready willing and able to help you.

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Comment by Amber on May 8, 2012 at 11:57am

@Mark: I had one manager over the course of a 16 year career that was a wonderful guide, mentor, and inspiration of what I could accomplish. Not only in my professional life, but in my personal one as well. Over 20 years ago, and I still have wonderful memories and lifelong lessons and skills that he shared with me.


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