At the start of my business career when I was filled with more promise than talent Dr. Bob Williams became my mentor. He took me under his wing and helped me understand:
– How to keep my cool in the heat of the office battle
– How to ask the right question at the right time
– How business really worked including the people I should befriend and avoid
Dr. Williams freely poured time, effort and priceless knowledge into me, I will be forever grateful for his efforts in turning me into a better-rounded professional.
Regardless if you are focused on growing your career or in job search or we need mentors. People like Dr. Williams who can provide guidance, information and solve problems as we navigate the good the bad and the ugly of our career and lives.
Looking For A Mentor?
Good question. But to be brutally honest, chances of finding a mentor like Dr. Williams are slim to none. Why…I think the problem lies in the definition of mentorship. It’s far too narrow. Let me explain.
When most people use the term mentor, they mean a one-on-one coaching relationship with someone older and more experienced. While you may be able to settle for an informal or ad hoc relationship instead of the traditional formal arrangement, the supply of mentors far exceeds the available supply.
Mentor – An Expanded View
So, what do you do if you are trying to find a mentor?
I suggest you expand your view of mentoring, to include any experience, resource, opportunity or person you can learn from. Michael Hyatt, leadership expert and bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Offers 8 ways we can find the advice, confidence and information that can come with mentoring in his post How to Find A Mentor. I am pleased to present Michael’s thoughts:
1. Blogs and Podcasts
If you could wave a magic wand and be mentored by anyone, who would it be? John Maxwell, Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey or someone else? Chances are they have a blog or podcast and are already churning out a tons of content—for free. Are you taking advantage of it?
There’s no greater value than a relevant, well-written book. For less than $20, you can get someone’s best thinking on a specific topic. Never before in history has so much knowledge been available to so many, for so little. And if you don’t have the money to buy a book, go to the library.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours with Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, David Allen, and numerous others. Not personally, of course, but by taking their courses. This is the next level up from reading a book. The instruction is more in-depth and, as a result, more likely to actually transform my behavior.
When possible, I prefer live instruction. It provides an opportunity for total immersion, focused learning, and interaction with other students. It occasionally provides direct access to the instructor(s). I make it a priority to attend three to four conferences a year as a student.
I didn’t start hearing about these until a few years ago. Now they are all the rage. They are actually a very old idea. Benjamin Franklin, for example, had one. It’s a wonderful opportunity for peer mentoring. My friend Dan Miller has a great audio and PDF on how to create one.
6. Membership Sites
This can be a wonderful hybrid of input from specific mentors plus the input of fellow members. For many people this is the perfect combination. That’s what I do, for example, at Platform University. There’s a monthly fee attached, but it is nominal and enables us to bring high-quality content to our members.
If you are willing to pay for a mentor, a coach is a great option. I employed one for more than a decade. While you may think you can’t afford one, I would challenge you to investigate it before dismissing it. If a coach helps you seize one opportunity, optimize your productivity, or avoid one fatal mistake, it will pay for itself many times over. I recommend Building Champions.
Though a true mentor may be difficult to find, it’s not impossible. If you have one in mind, start by building the relationship—just like you would anyone else. Don’t lead with “Will you be my mentor?” (That’s like asking someone to marry you on the first date.) Instead, get to know them. Look
The Bottom Line: The Accountability of the Mentor
In 1st Corinthians 4:17, Paul sends Timothy to mentor the Corinthian believers and to hold them accountable; for as Jesus said, “He who is faithful in little is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). Dr. Williams was faithful in the little things, mentoring young professionals, tending to the fine points of the school system. And he was faithful in the large thing as the Bibb County turned to him to lead the school system through its most challenging times.
On Friday, Dr. Robert Williams will be laid to rest. He was in tune with his times while still ahead of his times. I like many are grateful that this “Timothy” was sent into my life to mentor me then and to keep me accountable long ago and even to this day.
Marben Bland is a Writer, Speaker and Strategist focused on working with emerging biotech and high tech companies. He writes the weekly How to be a LinkedIn Ninja blog, in addition to the Weekly Job Report and the Friday Commentary blog. A popular speaker at trade shows and seminars Marben is available for strategic consulting engagements or speaking at your next event; give him a call today at 608.358.1309
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