Don’t Ask to Be Mentored
The Millennial generation seems to have embraced the idea of being mentored. In many colleges, students are exposed to mentoring by professors, and they are encouraged to seek out a mentor when they move into the workforce. Unfortunately, this leaves out two important details of that instruction: what you should specifically expect in a mentoring relationship, and how to enter that relationship.
When these two pieces of the mentoring puzzle are absent, people are left with the idea that they should initiate a mentoring relationship. Desiring to move up the corporate ladder someday, they may look at company executives as potential mentors. Then comes the awkward question, “Will you mentor me.”
I have been approached precisely in that way. Worse, an article from Yale University instructs you on how to develop an email to ask someone to mentor you. There’s little chance that an email is going to give you the result you think that you’re looking for. I, at least, don’t give an automatic negative response to these requests.
When someone asks me to consider mentoring them, I respond by asking he would expect from that relationship. Often, there is little clarity given in reply. That’s probably because the person asking doesn’t understand what a mentoring relationship entails.
Here are three things that you can do to move into a mentoring relationship successfully.
First, search the internet for ideas about personal development, particularly in business. Many companies today have a portion of an employee’s job description that addresses personal development. You may be able to list one or two areas that you want to address over the work year. Use what you find on the internet to identify one area in which you feel confident yet have room to grow. Choose another area that has gone unaddressed in your life but would give you significant growth in both your work and social relationships.
Second, once you have chosen personal growth areas to develop, next search for books that will teach you in those specific areas. Many public libraries carry a large number of personal development books that you can borrow. But you can also ask your supervisor if she has a recommended book on the topic. Asking that question lets your supervisor know that you are a self-starter yet are also looking for input.
Third, once you have read a book or two on the area you want to develop in, journal thoughts and ideas that you gleaned from those books. Yes! Write down things that have struck you and how you might apply those ideas to yourself. Many company supervisors how have regularly scheduled coaching sessions with each employee. Bring your journal to that meeting to discuss what you have read and how you are applying the principles and tasks you found there. Supervisors will often take note of your efforts and give you help in these areas.
Consistently self-evaluating your own personal development needs and sharing those your efforts with your supervisor will slowly grow into a mentoring relationship — with the right person, the one who knows best what you need at this point in your life. A good supervisor will not only coach you in what you have identified but will help you broaden your perspective in other areas that you may know or understand.
As you do these three simple steps, you have great potential to grow into a mentoring relationship instead of trying to squeeze yourself into an uncomfortable one.
And as you begin on this journey, here are three quotes that have helped me keep my own self-development in perspective:
“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” ―Stephen Covey
“Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who do not. When I see a person beginning to separate themselves from the pack, it’s almost always due to personal growth.” ―John C. Maxwell
“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” ―Robin Sharma
If you have a little extra time, here is a video of Jim Rohn, someone I refer to as my “distance mentor.” I read much of his material and was able to go to a conference in Dallas and hear him speak for two days.