Gaining More From Your Mentor Relationship - December 19, 2017

An experienced colleague, known as a mentor, can provide invaluable help and assistance in advancing your career. Creating and maintaining the mentor-mentee relationship; however, can be challenging. Maybe your company does not offer a formal mentorship program. Perhaps it's difficult to find time to meet. Or, maybe you simply feel that you're not receiving much value from your current mentor.

Motivational speaker and author Lei Wang says that the key to crafting a successful relationship with a professional mentor is to look outside the box and identify individuals who can offer the best professional guidance. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Wang's tips for successfully managing your mentor-mentee relationships.

Find Your Mentors. A mentor is someone who guides you, watches out for you and gives you advice. Unlike the hierarchical relationship between a boss and subordinates, or the contractual relationship between a coach and players or a teacher and students, the relationship between a mentor and a mentee is often informal and voluntary.

Mentors may not be much older than you or more senior in professional ranking. You may not even realize someone is playing a mentoring role in your life or career until much later.

Most people tend to determine the value of advice based on who it comes from. When you receive guidance from someone whom you regard as your superior—someone with an impressive title—you're more likely give their advice weight. But sometimes, the most insightful advice may come from among your peers, an outsider or even someone you consider less knowledgeable than you. Sometimes the most innovative idea may come from a novice in the field. Wang says to keep an open mind and a humble attitude; your best mentors could be anywhere.

Ask For Help. Once you find your mentors, you need to learn when to seek their help. Your passion may be in starting your own business or adding value to your existing professional position. With an abundance of easily accessible information online and in print, you can often get started on your own.

There is tremendous value in self-teaching, learning through practice and learning through mistakes. But it is important to recognize when to seek out help. Asking for help where it matters is a sign of strength, not weakness. Getting the right help at the right time could make the difference between years of detours and gaining momentum earlyon.

Get The Most Out Of A Mentoring Relationship. Since mentors are not obligated to you, it's important to work hard and be driven and passionate in order to deserve their time and effort. The reward for the mentor is not money or promotions at work, but seeing they can make a difference in your progress.

To get the best out of a mentoring or coaching relationship, you first need to know how to listen to advice. Effective listening requires you to give up any prejudgment of what you hear. Often, when great advice motivates you to take the right action and it yields the right result, it is not because it is new advice; you may have heard it many times before. Following that advice worked only when it clicked with you, when you really listened and were more capable of understanding the advice. Listen to every piece of advice, even familiar advice, like it is the first time you are hearing it.

Become Your Own Mentor. Shortening your learning path is normally the reason to seek out a mentor in the first place. The most important role a mentor plays is in motivating you to reach higher goals—goals you might have once thought impossible.

It is also important not to rely on a mentor's guidance as a crutch. The goal of seeking professional assistance is to shorten your learning curve and to become independent and competent faster. Ultimately, you must learn to be your own motivator.

Learning to listen to advice and keeping an open mind about who can play a productive mentoring role in your career will broaden the opportunities you have for learning.

Source: Lei Wang is an internationally recognized adventurer, motivational speaker and author of After the Summit: New Rules for Reaching Your Peak Potential in Your Career and Life.

The first Asian woman to complete Explorers Grand Slam (a climb to the highest peak on each continent and a ski expedition to both poles), Wang channels her experiences to convey a message of perseverance and steadfast determination that her audiences can use at work or at home.

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