The High Art of Mentoring
Mentoring seems to be more art than science. Those who have had a mentor or been a mentor often have mixed experiences. Some relationships and arrangements are great; others didn't quite work out so well for either party.
As such, I tend to stay away form formulas or rigid framework on this topic. In my experience, the best mentor-mentored relationships seem to be organic and even haphazard in forming. And, like art, what appeals to one person may not appeal to another.
That's why I want to share part of two recent articles I read. Each offers suggestions for how to find a mentor or develop as one. Perhaps both articles will serve as a guide to you, no matter where you are on this journey.
The first is from Jeff Cornwall. He suggests that entrepreneurs in particular find two mentors:
What I can offer them is help on the issues and challenges that all entrepreneurs face, such as financing options, growing pains, partnership issues, ethical quandaries, and so forth. I can be their “process mentor.”
But, what I can offer them is not always enough. Sometimes there are issues that they face that are specific to their industry. That is why I always encourage entrepreneurs to also find a “content mentor” – someone with a depth of experience in their industry.
Go read his full post, including his perspective on what mentors get out of a mentoring relationship.
The second piece comes from Kneale Mann and he discusses the most effective mentors in his life, determining that each seemed to embody three distinct roles:
Each mentor inhabited these roles to varying degrees, offering advice and action dependent upon the stage of the relationship.
Mentors can be great assets, but only if the relationship benefits each party. As you look for someone to mentor or someone to be mentored by, don't settle for what doesn't work for you. Like that large canvas hanging over your fireplace you glance at everyday, you need to find a mentor that helps your soul sing and makes you proud to claim it.