A mentor — is not a babysitter — she is a lifeline!

From the day we are born, we rely on parents or others for guidance or help to learn very basic things like walking, talking, making hand gestures, etc. As we grow up we become more and more dependent on others to acquire skills to survive in this competitive world. Once we reach late teens, we start looking out for those who have succeeded in their lives against all odds and set an example for us. We try to emulate them, keeping them as our role models. And as young professionals, we seek out for mentors.

A good mentor can make a world of difference. Mentoring could mean different things to different people. Some mentors guide you, give advice to you, and encourage you to do something, while some help you advance your education or career. Some even help you in networking and getting you the necessary connections. A mentor does not even have to realize that he/she is a mentor to you. Mentors can also save you the trouble of going through the same hardships that they have already experienced in the past..

Mentoring doesn’t have to be a face-to-face activity. It can be done through an e-mail or a telephone, or even through hand-written letters.

It is very important to consider all possibilities when it comes to choosing a good mentor. A person who you may not have thought of as a good mentor initially may turn out to be the best mentor you could possibly dream of. Be open when choosing a mentor. A good place to start looking for a mentor usually is in your social circle of family and friends. From there, you can extend your search to your high school, for example, teachers. Also, you can find mentorship in leaders of certain groups you look up on, your next-door grandpa, or any other significant people that you came across in your life. Identify someone from whom you can learn and who knows something or has done something that you have always wanted to know or do. A mentor you choose doesn’t have to be rich, famous, or known to the whole world. He should be a person who has had past experience and should be willing to transfer that knowledge to you.

Guiding Light

It is a good idea to explain to someone why you chose them as a potential mentor and how you would possibly want the person to help you. You will need to research about that person thoroughly; study about what he has done, what kind of experiences he has had, how he thinks, and in what ways he can be of help to you as a mentor. Research about them intimately. You will have to persuade that person to be your mentor by telling them what it is that you want from them and why they will have to trade their family time to spend time with you. You may have to give them a proposition that would compel them to say yes which will eventually make them satisfied and happy that they helped you, and develop some kind of affinity towards you.

An example to approach someone for mentorship would be, “I would like you to mentor me. All I need is just 10 minutes a month. Would you be kind enough to give me that time? If you give me that much time, I will promise you that I will return the same favour to someone else somewhere in future.” In case the person likes you they will give you their 10 minutes in the first few months. If there is some kind of chemistry between you both, the person wouldn’t mind if you call them twice a month. And perhaps in future you both can become drinking buddies.

If you want to be a successful businessman and if you approach Bono (Rock Star), it is of no use to you. He can only teach you how to be a rock star and not a businessman. Choose the right person with the right experience and knowledge that will help you fulfill your goals.

Most people may not agree to be your mentor just because you’re willing to pay them money or your motive is only to get rich. Money should always be a by-product of what you plan to do even though that may be your ultimate goal.

During the process of searching and seeking out a mentor, always be prepared for your prospect person to turn you down. If this happens, do not take it personally. May be the person has other responsibilities that would stand in the way of being a good mentor to you.

Myth busters

A mentor:

1. doesn’t have to be greatly successful.

2. doesn’t have to be impressed by your achievements.

3. is not there forever.

4. is not a babysitter.