What is a mentor? The dictionary definition is “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.”
I think of a mentor as a resource, an ally, a professional encourager.
Here are the top-ten attributes of a mentor, according to me.
- Passionate Yes, an overused adjective -- but being a mentor is serious business, and you wouldn’t wait to be lukewarm about someone’s heartfelt purpose.
- Predictable For example, phone greetings -- the live kind: “Beautiful day! This is (your name)!” or “Yeah, who’s this.” It’s very reassuring to someone seeking counsel to believe their mentor is, at the very least, on an even keel -- better still, joyfully welcoming life.
- Accessible This just means people don’t have to wait more than a day or two for a response to a text, email, voicemail.
- Great Listener Listening well is the greatest single skill predictive of success in anything. This means asking questions, then asking expanding questions, then asking questions related to someone’s very specific next purpose.
- Shines the Light on Others When I’m mentoring someone is not the time to regale them with stories of my infamous youth-- or even detailed timelines on my success history. Turn the klieg lights around.
- A Paced Communicator There are rare life puzzles that require daily communication or even greater frequency. This is extreme -- and could become suffocating is exercised too often. Once a week or once a month is more impactful and productive. Emails to handle any daily details are an exception, of course. I do recommend subscriber to a daily encouraging quote.
- Helps You Hold onto Your Greatest Purpose This is why being a mentor is a calling, not a job -- whether there’s a charge for keeping you on the path and out of the poison oak or not. In my experience, being gently reminded to raise my eyes from all the distractions and connect frequently with what I really want to make a stand for -- and then reminded again, and again, and .. You get the idea. This is the essential calling of a mentor.
- Mirrors the You They Know You Can Be When I look into the eyes of my mentor, I can see absolute belief in me -- belief in the pace of my progress, in the validity of my purpose, and in my ability to make it happen. My mentor holds the vision for me whenever I waver -- holds up that wizard’s mirror where my reflexion is me ever more self-realized.
- Doesn’t Accept Excuses at Face Value Excuses are what our lower, reptilian brain recites all the time, and they’re all closely related to “I’m very afraid! Should I run and hide under a rock?” A mentor will gently coax you right up into your homo sapien brain -- to see if it really is a huge mammal-eating predator or just a puzzle in your path. Repetition of this practice is how we learn that puzzles are fun.
- Lives by this Mandate: Allow Your Dreams to Direct Your Choices. Letting your circumstances direct your choices (too tall/too short, too young/too old, too tough/too soft, too broke/too flush right now -- any of the self-limiting prophecies we feed ourselves) -- deciding your next step this way? It’s the express route to more of whatever you want less of.