What is a mentor?
A mentor is someone who is wiser, more expert and more experienced than you are in a given area, who acts as an adviser, supporter, champion, role model and general guide along the path you’ve chosen. There are no shortcuts to success. But mentors help you to refine the process. They can encourage your awareness, support your belief and challenge your conduct.
Where do you get one?
We hear a lot about mentors in business these days, about how every junior manager should have one. How formal mentoring schemes (a bit like ‘buddy’ schemes in schools) can help people to develop their skills and their careers within organisations and beyond. What we don’t hear so much about is this: we don’t choose our mentors – they choose us. There’s an old Buddhist saying: ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.’ That’s also been my experience.
Mentors will come into your life as you get out there, making relationships and knocking on doors in search of opportunities. They will identify you as somebody who has the potential to walk the same path they have walked. They will recognise in you a vision and core values that they share.
That’s why potential mentors respond to you and you to them. You ‘click.’ And that’s why they are healthy people for you to follow: because your vision and values are similar. They lead you further down your path and not down detours of their own.
Finding a mentor isn’t something that you do. It’s something that happens when you begin to walk the path, provided your intention is sincere. Don’t go looking for them. Get yourself on the path and they’ll find you.
Is there a mentor or potential mentor on your path? If so, grasp the offered hand and every opportunity it holds for learning and growth and comradeship. If not (yet), don’t worry. Stay awake. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.