How to be Mentored

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Whether your pursuit is professional speaking, small business success, or even tai chi, the fastest way to proficiency is by being mentored. Having someone that is only one or hundreds of steps ahead is the most efficient way that I know of to move forward in any skill. The problem that most people have with a mentor is that they don’t know how to be mentored.

Don’t Know How to be Mentored?

Yes, that is right. Most people that seek mentoring don’t know how to be mentored. Call it arrogance or just plain human nature, opening up to being mentored is difficult and many of us have a resistance to one or more of the diseases of bad mentees.

Diseases of Bad Mentees

1.   They Want to Show Off What they Know

This is my number one flaw. When I meet someone that is further along, I let my brain move faster than my mouth and I start trying to show off what I know already. When you are being mentored, you need to learn to shut up, listen, and ask questions. Are you doing thee same thing? If you are, this is the fastest way to cause your mentor to shut you out and not want to help you.

2. They Don’t Know What they Want

Many people fail to be mentored because they don’t know what they want from the mentoring relationship.  Your mentor is not a mind reader, so it is important to tell them if you are looking for referrals, knowledge, or feedback on how you are progressing. Also, have a very clear idea of where you are trying to go with your pursuit. A mentor is a guide along the path and not the person that selects the path you are to follow in life.

3.  They Want to get Personal

Often in a mentoring relationship, we want to know more about the personal lives of our mentors. Unless your mentor lets you into their personal life, you should not pry into their life outside of the mentoring relationship. Getting too personal can hurt the objectivity of both you and your mentor, so in most cases it is best to keep things professional.

4. They Are an Energy Leech

Don’t bug your mentor with phone calls, e-mails, or other requests for their time, knowledge, and resources. This does not help you develop as a person and can be a drain on the energy of your mentor.

5. They Don’t Do What They Are Told

A mentoring relationship flourishes when you are taking the steps your mentor prescribes. Many times a mentor will tell you to do things you have never done before. Doing them might put you outside of your comfort zone , which is good because doing something different might be what you need to move forward.

How to be Mentored

1. Respect the Your Mentors Time

If your mentor can meet with you for a limited time, then be there on time and be focused on what you need to achieve. Respect the time you are given and don’t miss meetings, be late, or allow the discussions to run over their allotted time.

2.  Keep Secrets Secret

Your mentor might share with you much of the knowledge that they have gained over the years. Respect what your mentor tells you and don’t talk about your meetings or what you discussed on Facebook, Twitter, or any other medium without the express permission of your mentor. There are some things that might be valuable intellectual property to your mentor and they are sharing it to help you and not the world as a whole.

3.  Be Willing to Change

When being mentored, open yourself up to being changed by your mentor. When a mentor makes a suggestion for you to change something and you don’t do it, then they might be less likely to mentor you in the future. You have to be willing to be open to changing what you are doing.

4.       Reciprocate

Time is not free for you or your mentor. There are times where your mentor might as for a referral, an investment in a course, or your help with something in their business. Respect that they are making an investment in you, so you will have to make an investment in them as well.

A Note of Caution: Trust Runs in Both Directions

A mentoring relationship is based on trust. Your mentor must be able to trust that you are a good person and you have to be able to trust your mentor. Never be mentored by someone that asks you to do something illegal or unethical in your industry. If your mentor does do something that you consider unethical, then get out of that mentoring relationship.

Having a mentor can be a wonderful experience, but many of us are burdened by our inability to accept mentorship in our lives. I encourage you to allow yourself to be open to being mentored and give yourself to changing and growing in whatever pursuit you are trying to achieve.

Do you agree or disagree with my stance on mentoring?

Let me know in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

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2 Responses to How to be Mentored
  1. mmmmmpig
    March 8, 2010 | 13:26

    Very interesting post. It is also a very helpful post as I am about to enter into a mentoring relationship. The piece that was especially helpful was determining the purpose of the relationship. Having a strong framework to work within will help immensely. Thanks much.

  2. Ben
    March 10, 2010 | 18:18

    Yeah, it’s just like how being able to take feedback and criticism is a skill.

    I spoke with a coach recently who told me that “all the best coaches have coaches”.