The Surprising Secret to Finding Mentors
The dark side of leadership is worse when you feel alone. Leaders face frustration, disappointment, confusion, doubt, stress, fear, and more. Hopelessness defeats leaders unless they replenish strength and find direction.
Hope is a function of relationship.
Leaders with mentors go further.
- Elevate your game.
- Believe in your potential and talent.
- Challenge limitations.
- Protect from danger.
- Build character.
- Enhance opportunities.
- Share their life with candor and transparency.
- Solve “with” not “for.”
- Exemplify qualities you want to develop.
- Connect you with others.
Michael Leavitt, three time governor of Utah, dropped a mentor-nugget in my lap, when we talked about his new book, “Finding Alliances, Building Allies.”
“The way you cultivate good mentors is you figure out what’s important to them…”
Begin with giving. Cultivate mentors by pouring into them before asking them to pour into you. Figure out where they want to go and help them get there. It’s as simple as helping a professor lay sod.
Governor Leavitt shared the story of a student who needed a mentor. He heard that his professor was laying sod in his back yard. The student just showed up to help but in the end cultivated a mentor.
Gain influence by helping others reach their goals.
Governor Leavitt tells the story in 79 seconds:
Seven strategies for finding mentors:
- Just ask. This may feel stiff and formal but it’s an option.
- Seek their insights on small issues.
- Ask them to share stories from their life.
- Consider someone younger than you.
- Buy them lunch.
- Escalate the relationship. Begin with email, for example.
- Ask for a suggestion, follow through, and report back.
Bonus: Cultivate more than one mentor.
Everyone needs a “with.”
How can leaders find mentors?
What have mentors done for you?
Great stuff today Dan, thanks!
I still get a little stuck with “leaders”. They do this and that and d other ting.
People do these things. Some people are Leaders, so what works with all people first works with Leaders too.
Anyway found my latest sponsor, what we call mentors in AA by suiting up and showing up. Then listening.
When Brent shared he had something I wanted. It is so cool I am 51 and he is 62. I happen to have been sober and clean exactly one more day than him!! I remind him often when he tells me stuff I need to hear instead of what I want to hear. We got 58 years sober between the two of us!!! Not bad for a couple of hopeless drunks.
He is catholic and enjoys his conscious contact with God in part thru his religion. I don’t. That does not interfere with our common bond.
We had dinner the other night and the eatery had a tv! Jeopardy was on and he answered every question but 2. The dude is brilliant, I admire that, way smarter than me. He isn’t rich, he is a counselor who works with kids.
I did not go looking, when I was ready he appeared. Glad he did.
Just how it works in my world.
SP back into right now!!
Thanks for sharing your story Scott. Love it. Very encouraging.
Thanks Dan and so sorry for the link malfunction yesterday!
Seems copying and pasting a link is so simple. Should have asked Brent how to do it!!!!!! Hope you accepted my sincerest apology for my link incompetence! Really was a GREAT video too! Hope folks check out soul pancake! Really cool folks! Great example of how expressing gratitude makes us happier! Even statistical facts!!!
Have a great one Dan! You are a Saint!
Totally agree with giving first. So important in networking… and in fact, life in general. I would add, you don’t always have to call them a “mentor”…. just begin the relationship and let it evolve.
I share similar thoughts in o ne of my earliest posts on Let’s Grow Leaders.
Glad you extended the conversation and I agree. YOu don’t need to use the term mentor. Just go do it without the word.
The one place mentorship comes in handy is when you have to deal with the unknown. When it comes to major decisions, you can do all the research you want, but there is always going to be ambiguity. The right choice is not always obvious. A good mentor will help you deal with that, even if all they do is confirm the fact that yes, you always need to make decisions based on less than perfect information.
Your comment made me smile. It’s so true. And don’t you love it when someone sees something you don’t see! Sometimes “been there and done that” is awesome.
Or as you say, even if they haven’t been there, just knowing that not knowing is part of the deal helps.
Most people don’t have mentors because they don’t have the courage to ask. Friends, ASK. It’s usually going to be a YES. I’ve also found that narrowing the focus that your asking for help in is a good strategy; after you’re friend, you can ask about anything!
I’ll add that early in my leadership career, I didn’t seek mentors because I “knew” too much. I didn’t need them. Doh!
Thoughtful twist on mentoring. I think we have more mentors than we realize. I always thought of them as friends, which is what mentors have to become. One of the hardest things in a typical mentor relationship is to accept their clay feet. 🙂
I hear you on the clay feet. People that we hold up always disappoint. Everyone is human and has frailties.
Maybe we want someone in our life that is god-like. I’m not saying that’s useful…just thinking out loud.
It’s true, though, and then I think we LOOK for flaws to bring them to our level. 🙂
I liked two points- making mentor younger than you and have more than one mentor. These are very challenging and difficult tasks. When you make someone your mentor who is younger than you, you need to have strong willpower to accept. At the same time, you need even more courage to have many mentors. It is the natural tendency of people to listen what we expect or like. But when someone has many mentors, he or she has very strong listening and unlearning skills. The reason is simple. Each mentor has something to suggest, opine or add. And this will work effectively when we have willingness to unlearn. The concept is very powerful,but for those who do not deviate from being criticized or blamed. In other words, such people have strong emotional intelligence and tolerance power.
Therefore, finding mentors is the process of knowing oneself more than others. The one who masters himself, has potential to look for mentor who can help to become more powerful in self mastery and situations that generally influence our attitudes and decision making.
Just a note on the younger mentor. I have three young mentors in my life. They don’t even know they are mentors…but often seek their insight and in particular their perspective. It’s very useful.
Dan, your inbox in now full of mentor requests. Good luck with that! 🙂
hahahaha! YOu have a great personality. I always appreciate your playfulness.
I truly receive mentorship through your blogs and really more from you comments. Kudos.
I have to say that I am with the one that says people don’t ask for mentors because they don’t want to hear where they need to change. I have found that if you really have a great mentor you will find that you have a lot that doesn’t need changed, that gives you the courage to work on the things that do need change.
You really are a blessing, thank you. ;o)
Mentor, #11 Call you on unhealthy shenanigans…or that the emperor’s new clothes might have a hole or two in em.
Interesting how simple it is to get mentors..’ask’, yet, what mental walls prevent leaders or leaders-to-be from simply asking? Fear?… of creating an uncomfortable power differential? Fear that others will know that you don’t know? Probably lots of mental walls to tear down.
Mentors see inside you far better than you can ever imagine to see inside yourself. Unfiltered, unbiased, unconditional. Sure they see you in your flaws and also in all the amazing potential that you never realized you were choking off, until you took a breath, took a leap of faith and asked.
And definitely, ‘what Kymee said’, too! There’s some pretty wizard-like mentors roaming these LF realms.
Interesting. So a mentor, in a way, is like a friend where you establish the condition that you will first and foremost be honest with each other. The end goal being to bring out the beat version of each other.
“Having” a mentor can re-charge you…so can “Being” a mentor! Get it from both ends!
Had given great insights as we are passing t though a similar phase
An interesting post. I take my well-wishers and supporters as my mentors. However, you need be very choosy in selecting 2-3 good people who can be easily reached and talked to for any kind of anxiety or confusion while taking a futuristic approach in tackling the bothering issues. They can be from your own organization/ profession, ex-colleagues or people who have known you in depth and have a better understanding of your daily schedule.
I strongly feel that mentors category people need to be more experienced, knowledgeable and matured enough to give you practical views. It can’t be younger lots. The governing factor is ‘trust’ and ‘openness’ with which you can communicate with them.
Mentors need to be changed from time to time as you progress. They are very important and useful provided they are given due importance and respect for their wisdom, and your readiness to listen to their advice in the matters of your difficulty.
That’s so true, younger mentor is great, i have 3 right now. They make me feel free to ask what’s i want to know. Ask for helps, confirming & sharing my idea or they’re always welcome to answer and i’m a good listener..no stress at all. Your post is great!