Mentors are great assets in helping us reach our goals. They bring experience, wisdom, and knowledge to the table that can guide us through challenges, overcoming limitations, and achieving our goals. I think of them as our personal coach. They can also provide a sense of comfort and reassurance that no matter what, we’re not alone.
Whether you have a professional coach or simply someone who is invested in your success, having someone to turn to is invaluable. A mentor in your corner can give you the confidence to push past your fears and take on new challenges. They can be a sounding board for your wildest dreams and biggest goals, providing valuable insight and feedback that can help you reach new heights.
Mentors provide a unique perspective and access to resources that can help you on your path. They will often challenge you to think differently, explore new ideas, and continue to grow. They will help you stay motivated and accountable for the commitments you set out to reach.
What makes good mentors?
At their core, a good mentor is a teacher. They can offer direction and build trust so that real learning, teaching, understanding, and trust can be established. And that trust is everything. It makes space for deeper honesty and real growth. I have had the pleasure and fortune to have amazing mentors in my life and I know how essential they have been in helping me achieve the goals I set out to reach.
The ideal coach or mentor looks different for everyone, but I’ve found that some characteristics stand out.
Learning takes time. A good mentor is patient while you develop new skills. They understand that mistakes are part of the learning process, and they provide guidance without being overly critical.
Motivation and accountability are key to success. A good mentor will provide encouragement and positive reinforcement. They will help you stay focused on the end goal, offering support and praise along the way.
A great mentor can step back from a situation and look at it objectively. They can offer a fresh perspective and help you see things from a different angle.
Encouragement and motivation don’t mean your mentor is there to push the easy button. A good mentor will challenge you to think differently and push yourself further than you ever thought imaginable.
A good mentor–mentee relationship is built on respect. They listen to their mentees’ ideas and give them the space to grow into their own authority.
If you’ve never considered it, take some time to think about the characteristics your ideal mentor should have. More than anything, this is a collaborative effort, so be honest and open about what you need. It can make all the difference in helping you achieve your goals and reach your full potential.
Are you coachable?
Just as important as choosing the right mentor is being coachable. I’ve had to learn over the years to allow myself to be coached and to accept feedback without becoming defensive. It’s a process, but it’s one that has made all the difference in my success.
Being coachable means being willing to listen and explore new ideas, accept criticism with grace, and use feedback for growth. It’s about having the humility to learn from someone else, and it’s about trusting the journey even when you don’t have all the answers.
Sometimes you find yourself in a position where a coach or mentor is part of your job, whether you play sports or work at a company. Other times, you can seek out mentors on your own. Regardless of the circumstances, I think one of the most important things you can do is ask yourself, “Am I ready to take action?”
Time and energy are precious resources. Resources that high performers don’t give away lightly. Before you invest in a coach or mentor, make sure your time and energy are being invested wisely.
- Are you willing to trust and be vulnerable?
- Do you have a goal to work toward and the willingness to take action?
- What do you need to learn and improve?
- How can you create an environment where feedback is welcomed and growth is encouraged?
Gathering Your Board of Directors
You don’t have to have a formal mentorship in order to benefit from the guidance of trusted advisors. I like to think of my board of directors as the folks who provide me with support, advice, and accountability. It’s important to choose advisors who have a variety of perspectives, strengths, and experiences.
Your board of directors can be made up of friends, family members, colleagues, mentors, or coaches. What matters is that you carefully pick people who will provide clear guidance and meaningful feedback that will help you grow.
The right coach or mentor can help, but only if you are ready to do the work. Be honest and humble, ask yourself these questions, to get in the right headspace, and be open to learning. With the right guidance, your best game yet just might lie ahead of you.