In many of the career choices I have made in the past, I learned early on that having a MENTOR that I connect with is the key to success. If anyone believes that earning a degree or professional certificate qualifies him or her to be an expert in any field…hold up! Becoming an expert, or simply the BEST in a chosen field, takes book learning coupled with EXPERIENCE.
EXPERIENCES begin developing every single day once one begins their career. Unfortunately, there is no way to record every professionals experiences to be shared in a lecture hall/skilled training class, though now with the internet, we can be privy to more than ever before. But papers and videos on “How To” alone aren’t going to cut it either.
In my professional experience there is no substitute for a real, live person that has proven themselves and is willing to coach, train, discuss, counsel, facilitate, while sharing their stories of what not only HAS worked, but also what has NOT worked.
If one truly wants to “knock it out of the park” in their chosen field, then find the “Babe Ruth” of the game and do everything he tells you to do. Not what you want to do….WHAT HE TELLS YOU TO DO! Model everything he does, from how he prepares for a work day, to how he approaches his contacts, his attitudes, how he continues to learn himself.
According to The Free Management Library, a mentor must have the following qualities:
1.) Desire to help
2.) Positive Experience
3.) Good Reputation for developing others
4.) Time and Energy
5.) Up to Date Knowledge
6.) Learning Attitude
7.) Demonstrated Effective Managerial Skills
As much as that is true, remember that there is a SHARED responsibility for learning. If your mentor is willing to share all their experience and knowledge with you, YOU MUST DO YOUR PART! Model, repeat, study and DO what your guide has told you to do. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
If you feel uncomfortable…too bad! Step out of the comfort zone. If you THINK their approach is stupid…or not. Either way, you are not qualified to think at this stage because you are the “grasshopper” so to speak. If you insist on questioning your mentor, then they have the right to end their efforts with you.
Remember they are working with you for YOUR benefit, they have proven themselves and have earned their “expertise” status already. That’s why you want to work with them! You still have “Similac behind your ears” in your field and that is very important to embrace at this stage. All egos get checked in the office parking lot NOW!
If you know that you are working with the best, it will all be worth it. You, in time, will continue your mentors legacy and become the best as well. These days, “Second Best Is Never Good Enough”, so find a great mentor and tap into their ‘greatness” so you can develop yours!