The highest paid baseball players have a coach, many in fact. Professional baseball players have a first base coach, second base coach, third base coach, hitting coach, batting coach and on and on. Have you ever thought about WHY? If they are so talented why does this elite group of athletes have so many coaches? In football and basketball the ratio of coaches to players remains high. Even the most gifted athletes benefit from an objective source. And so can you.
The word mentor and the process have changed in the 21st century. When you think of a mentor you might conjure up a picture of a kindly old man, gently prodding you on your road to enlightenment. Freeze frame that image because today’s mentor is not your father’s mentor! Here is a three step process to help you find your objective source.
First, forget the traditional image of a mentor.
Your most effective mentor may be female or male, patient or abrupt, geographically close to you or accessible only by phone or email.
Break out of the mental box you have designed for what a mentor should look like.
Second, look for a mentor differently than you would have in the last century.
In the traditional definition, a mentor was in the same line of work, even someone in your company. Perhaps someone who had come before you and broken ground or set records still unsurpassed. Look outside of your profession. Your prospects and clients are outside of your paradigm so you will benefit from the view an outside mentor can bring you.
You need to look at doing business differently than it has always been done. You know the last words of a dying business or a dying career, “that’s the way it has always been done”. An outside mentor will have no hidden agenda or reason to profit from your promotion or demotion.
Third, be willing to do the work. Ask yourself if you are truly ready to do the heavy lifting. Having a mentor is not easy in the short run. A mentor can’t do the work for you, and in fact have no control over two of the most important characteristics of someone in your field: your talent and your discipline. The benefits can be great in the long run. The accountability of the one on one process means that there will be no place to hide!
Benefits a mentor can provide:
- accountability: someone with no hidden agenda whose only purpose is to help you
- accelerate your career progress as a result of one-to-one sessions
- customized action plan to leverage your learning curve
What to expect:
- Hard work-having a mentor is not for the faint of heart
- You need to agree from the beginning on your goals
- Agree from the outset how progress and success will be measured
- Agree on methodology-what will your mentorship look like, how will you meet or talk, how often
- Agree on the value that you will receive when you reach these goals
- Will you be responsible for work in-between sessions?
- How will you be held accountable?
How to maximize the experience:
- Focus—on your work and the bigger reason why you thought you would benefit from a mentor
- Actually apply you learn
- Try everything—at least once
- Set up a meeting schedule and stick to it
- Ask what you should be asking
- Be honest with yourself and your mentor
- Set up your own minimum and maximum criteria for evaluating
Have you seen the popular motivational poster that reads, “LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY?” Although the message applies to external leadership, the same can be said when you get in the way of your own message.
To be in the forefront of your profession, you must redefine how you discover, define and discuss your value with all those you encounter, both professionally and personally. You need to discover your value both as an individual and as an organization. Then you need to articulate this value with a clarity that compels people to think, talk and act in ways that create a “professional velocity” propelling you toward your goals.
For many of us, that requires a mentor. First, someone that holds up the mirror and helps us see the value that we bring to our marketplace. Then secondly, helps us to communicate our value with clarity, confidence, and conviction.
World class athletes, bold individuals and visionary companies look for a competitive edge. Let’s fact it; we all compete in a hyper-competitive world. We are constantly looking for an edge in price, service, speed – or anywhere else we can proclaim to our customers or fans– that we do it better. A mentor can be your edge.
You have only to look at the inductees into the Football Hall of Fame. How many of them ask their coach to introduce them on that important August day. You too can have a coach that helps you make it to your Hall of Fame.