How To Make The Most From Mentorship

To Get You Where You Want To Go

I’m convinced that behaviors that appear to be instinctual may not come without the modeling we get from spending time with a mentor. In fact, I believe that mentoring is essential for acquiring the subtle things that can make the biggest difference to our success. I know it has for me and I am thankful for the many mentors God has put in my life.

There are several “helping conversations” that can fuel both our personal growth as well as enterprise and each have their place. These would included teaching, mentoring, coaching and consulting.  Knowing the differences between these and when each is needed is important in order to get the most out of each of them.  If your curious about these differences, I’ve described and summarized them in a previous video post.

I do want to say a bit more about mentorship.  While mentorship is similar to teaching, there is a critical difference: mentorship imparts knowledge and wisdom that can only be gained through someone else’s personal experience. And while coaching often extends what mentorship begins, it too is very different. Mentoring is taking what God has given me and imparting that to you, whereas with coaching I’m taking what God has given you and drawing it out of you or making you aware of it. The former is taking your place on the stage as the Sage. The latter involves being a Guide on the side.  Both of these as well as teaching and consulting have their place… the right time and right context.

So how do you make the most out of your mentoring experiences? Here are six that I have found:

  1. Be humble- forget about whatever status or acclaim you’ve had in the past, assume the role of novice 10320952 - young college student tutoring an older classmate.and learner.
  2. Admire- remember it’s not all about you. Sincerely appreciate what attracts you to your mentor and do so in the right way, time and place.
  3. Understand- seek first to understand their perspective first instead of trying to show them how much you know.
  4. Give- reward and repay your mentor by seeking ways to add value back to them. Sometimes it comes by maximizing what you do with the mentorship you’ve been given, other times it’s something more reciprocal.
  5. Produce- successful people and companies won’t continue to give to what doesn’t reward them. Make sure you’re adding progressive value to the individual mentor as well as the enterprise.
  6. Communicate- know what to say, when to say it and how to say it. Sometimes the silence is just as important as the words spoken.

The reality is that you need great mentorship to maximize your success. And what you get out of your mentorship experience depends more on you than it does your mentor.

What do you need to do differently in order to maximize your own mentorship experience? More importantly, to what are you willing to commit?

Please leave a comment and share what you’ve found to be important in your own mentorship experience; you just never know who you might touch and provide some mentoring to along the way.