#7 Ways to Make The Most of Your Mentoring Relationship
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One thing that I have been able to answer, point blank, at different points of life, is ‘what made the difference’ — my answer being a constant ‘was fortunate to have the right mentors’. It hasn’t changed a bit.
What I have also realised over the years (courtesy different mentors, of course), is that “asking someone for mentorship”, “being someone’s mentee”, and “having a life-changing experience with mentors” — are all very different from each other.
And more or less, the ‘ability’ to make the most of these opportunities, often lies within the small things we need to do well. In this piece, I am sharing 7 things, which if done well, will ensure your coming out on top and experiencing what they call — transformation!
1. Respect Their Time: They are taking out very valuable time from their schedule, so you got to respect it by: a) making yourself available in alignment with their timelines (remember, you are the seeker here), b) ensuring you take what they’ve said seriously enough — it doesn’t mean following the advice word-by-word, but doing the homework they expect you to, since at no point they should feel this was time gone down the drain, which will worsen it off for any future folks who will reach out to this Mentor. Critical. Be Respectful.
2. Professionally Follow-up: Try and set up review-time, this could be monthly, fortnightly, or quarterly, depending on what works best between you and your mentor. Make this a periodic meeting/email/phone call — and set it up on their calendars. They run a busy life, so it’s always a good idea to drop in a reminder two days before the meeting/call, politely asking if there is a need to reschedule.
3. Help Them Make It Easy to Help You: Work on your self-discovery and assess your learning before you dive into that long elusive conversation with them. Once ready — tell them what’s going right, what’s going wrong, your learning from all kinds of stuff, and your plan as you move ahead now — give them the meat, ie the instances, data, self-learning — from which they can take you to the next level. That's what they are for, and you have to make sure you take them help for the right things.
4. Keep Them Engaged: It’s damn easy to ask someone to mentor you, and then forget everything about it. In that scenario, you are better off not doing it at all. Mentors take their job seriously, and that’s precisely the why and how of their making it big in life. Your growth path is something in which they see themselves as stakeholders now - so don't let that wean off, and ensure you are updating them on the small/big wins and losses of life. And the key is to be consistent at this, not for weeks or months, but years together.
5. Be Curious, Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: Try and make this a great experience for your Mentor as well. Constantly try and do new things, experiment enough, take risks, be bold - you'll end up doing fascinating things and will automatically get far more out of your Mentor once they realise you are in a rocket-ship!
6. Ask: Don’t be ever afraid to ‘ask’ for what you need. You will never know what you can ‘get’ by simply asking. Ask for their perspective, ask them what books you should read, ask for a connect to the right person, and the list goes on and on. I have met possibly everyone I ever wanted to 'by just asking', and it's gradually ended up having such a radiating effect on the everyday in life. While raising money, a lot of it was 'just asking' some mentors if they believed in what I was doing. Nothing is impossible. Ask.
7. Do What Your Heart Says: The best mentors always end long conversations with this gold. Read everything that you have to, listen with rapt attention and learn, and at the end, do what you have to. By bringing your own style to doing things, you open a pandora's box of innovative stuff. Steve Jobs had quite a few mentors, some who taught him marketing, some the art of managing relationships, some leadership, and so on, one of the significant ones being Andy Grove of Intel - Jobs absorbed all of that, and unleashed his charisma on top of it then!
Over the course of writing this, I could remember each mentor and each instance, and how every small learning made 'the incremental difference' I needed at 'that' particular moment. So here's the bonus point: Express Your Gratitude - sending a 'thank you' text is a great thing!