Perhaps you are embarking on a new career…or maybe you have just moved to a new town…or maybe you’re looking at the rest of adulthood and feel overwhelmed with feelings of doubt about yourself and your abilities to conquer those fears. Whatever your situation, mentors can be an invaluable resource in terms of helping us grow professionally and develop into the person we hope to be. But how do we go about inviting these potential mentors into our lives? How do we forge a deeper relationship with those we hope to gain wisdom from?
It may sound obvious and simple, but the truth is that when it comes to asking our potential mentors to coffee or lunch, most of us tend to feel as though we are asking our crush to prom…asking for this time with someone we admire can bring up all of our insecurities about ourselves and questions about our own worth. We tend to react to these feelings but second-guessing ourselves or withdrawing and avoiding the potential relationship all together. First check yourself for what might be blocking you from reaching out. Next, determine the truth about yourself and reach with confidence knowing that a “yes” or “no” does not determine your value. At least you had the courage to ask! Also, always keep in mind that regardless of your potential mentor’s answer, they will most likely be flattered and honored that you asked!
A simple gesture like treating someone to coffee or lunch may require a small investment on your part, but can go a long way in showing your potential mentor the heart behind asking them to play a more integral part of your life. These small gestures are a way of showing your appreciation for their time, resources, and investment in your life and demonstrate that you are willing to do your part in the process, assuring them that you will not take these things for granted.
Remember thank-you notes? Whether or not your mom insisted you write them for every occasion growing up, they are important now! When someone gives you the gift of investment in your life, appreciation is key to letting them know that you are aware of their efforts and thankful. Different from a friendship, these relationships are often not completely balanced in terms of give and take. Often mentors will pour into mentees life, and not vice versa. Given that these are often not balanced relationships, a demonstration of appreciate is crucial. In addition, expressing gratitude will allow you the opportunity to articulate exactly how they are impacting your life.
While this is not likely a balanced relationship in terms of give and take, everyone likes to be asked questions about themselves. A reciprocal conversation will create a more dynamic relationship rather than your mentor feeling like she is constantly interviewing you. Also, you will show him/her that you have a desire to learn from who they are and the experiences they have had.
Pay it Forward
When someone is pouring into our lives, it is important that we take the opportunity to pour into others’ lives. Passing along what you have learned from your mentor is a way of giving back and being a positive influence in someone else’s life the way that your mentor has been in yours. Not only will you give back, but you will also learn a lot in the process and gain further appreciation for your own mentor.
Mentors are tremendous gifts both personally and professionally and an opportunity to learn from someone you admire. In addition, it is always important to have a support system in place so when the valleys of life come, you have solid relationships you know you can count on. You will never regret that first invitation!
For more thoughts on the value of mentors, check out “The Give And Take: The Value Of Mentoring” in our Spring Issue.
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