Find a Mentor Today; Don’t Wait
Back when I started my career in higher education, I didn’t think about having a mentor, coach, or mastermind. They were not the rage like they are today.
Looking back, I did have those people interspersed in my professional life to guide me with better decision-making, goal setting, and life-balance. They just lacked a title. Probably the most profound influencer for me was the founding board chair of the foundation that I helped launch. It just happened. We started meeting monthly on board related issues because of his position as board chair. Our conversations evolved into his providing me guidance, support, and advice on many leadership and career related matters. He was always available for me and became my sounding board and trusted friend. He was a mentor.
Much has been gained and learned from my mentors as well as coaches and consultants over the years. They asked thoughtful questions, guided me through issues, and offered their unique perspectives. The value added has been tremendous. Here are the first three steps I recommend to finding a mentor.
First, be an advocate for YOU
Success is continuously refining and improving who we are and how we serve.
Decide now to be your own best advocate, and advocate for yourself. If you are not on a path of growing and expanding, start by intentionally filling your day with activities and people of high frequency. Weed-out people and behaviors that are low frequency. That sounds harsh, but nobody is going to look out after you better than you.
Jim Rohn said, “A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.”
Add high frequency activities and people to your life
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
Set a goal over the next several months to add high frequency people to your circle. Keep doing this and notice a difference in your conversations. The more successful you become, the less time you can afford engaging in menial conversations and “eating bad food.”
Invest more in you and your future. “The best investment you can make is in yourself,” says Warren Buffett.
Actively seek out a mentor
If you don’t have a suitable sounding board, find one. First, observe people with attributes you admire and want to emulate. These could be people with whom you now associate, have watched from afar, heard speak, or have been recommended. Consider individuals whose opinions you value and principles align with yours and with whom you have a good rapport.
Second, connect with that respected person over coffee to seek their opinion about a new endeavor, project, challenge, or dilemma. Don’t wait for it to just happen. Maybe you want to engage with them further. You may form a mentor-type relationship.
As my yoga teacher Martee says, “It is about progress, not perfection.” We progress with the support of others.
Be who you truly want to be, every single day. Each day that you live consistently with your values and ideals, amazing things will start to happen. You will live at a higher frequency. And you will begin to influence others in the same way.
I never saw myself as a mentor or coach. Then it occurred to me one day that I had enough experience and knowledge and a responsibility to help others in their career journey. I watched a colleague do this, and it inspired me. I became more intentional in guiding others and watching for opportunities to mentor. Maybe you are a mentor and already witness the benefits.
Who is guiding you in your professional journey? Are they genuinely interested in seeing you succeed? If so, they should be pressing you to think critically, challenging you in a way that moves you forward, and holding you accountable.
Consider a group of people (a mastermind), several people (mentors) or one person (a coach or sponsor) who can help advance you professionally. This also spills into your personal life.
*Originally published in the Birmingham Business Journal
Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. of NL Rieves Consulting, LLC is an executive coach and consultant to charitable organizations, assisting them to maximize and sustain funding to support their mission. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.rievesconsulting.com