How to Find a Good Mentor

By Ellesse

When I opened my mailbox yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find 2 complimentary tickets to a wealth seminar, courtesy from my esteemed Credit Card membership with an offshore bank. After some due diligence checks, I realized it was actually a pitch preview for a financial wealth mentorship program. It was definitely enticing enough to just register and attend the course since it was free but somehow or rather, I couldn’t help wondering if it would be as good as it sounded.

I can’t deny the fact that with the abundance of such mentorship programs or protege courses nowadays, it has definitely simplified the search for a mentor. It’s really unlike me to be so skeptical, but, are the mentors from such programs genuinely concerned about growing my potential or just plainly interested in my money? I really don’t know.

In my opinion, it’s not just a matter of finding a mentor. It’s about finding a good one.

What Constitute Qualities of a Good Mentor?

Someone who believes in your talents and works with you relentlessly to explore your latent capabilities. Someone who’s sincerely concerned about your personal development and will constantly influence you in equipping a winning mindset no matter how self deprecatory you may project yourself to be. In essence, a good mentor is someone who’ll go the extra mile just to help you.

I really consider it my good fortune to have a couple of dedicated tutors during my Pre University days, who undeniably were one of the winning reasons why I was able to uplift myself from a defeated 17-year-old to do well in my A-levels. For example, when I first joined the school, my accounting tutor would stay back and give me and another classmate extra lessons to help us catch up on our syllabus as both of us didn’t have any prior background in the subject. She would constantly motivate us and never once, did I ever felt inferior to students from the top ranking junior colleges. I knew I had to work hard. Not just for myself but also to repay her for the strong dedication and faith in us.

They were some of the earliest mentors that I’ve ever had! The extent of their mentorship had set the bar so high that it had somehow influenced my first perceptions of a good mentor, though it has been slightly modified over the years. With the advent of technology nowadays, a good mentor doesn’t even have to be physically close to you. It can be an article that he writes on his website, a podcast or video he recorded or even a teleseminar that he invites you to.

These allow mentor-mentee relationships to transcend geographical barriers, without which, I wouldn’t be able to learn personal development from Steve Pavlina or professional blogging from Darren Rowse. Both of them are exemplary cases of what I define to be great mentors. They’ll unselfishly share their knowledge in their field to their readers and often write motivational stuff to nudge their mentees. Through channels such as blog comments and forums, they’ll garner feedback from their mentees and address their concerns in a new article. The power of the internet allowed them to reach out to an even wider crowd that may not be possible using other conventional mediums. Amazing.

Here are some guidelines which I’ve personally used to find some of the best mentors:

(1) Mould Yourself to be a Good Mentee First

If you’ve been asking how much your mentor can do for you, take a moment and ask yourself this question €œAre you a good mentee in the first place?”. Believe it or not, but over the years of trying to search for the right mentor, I’ve come to realize that good mentor-mentee relationships have to be earned, not just searched. And the first step to earning it is to learn how to be a good mentee.

So, how do you know if you’re of good mentee material? One way to assess this is use the LAST litmus test. What does that mean? Essentially LASTis an acronmyn for Listen, Ask, Speak Up, Thank You. Let me explain why.

A first prerequisite of a good mentee is that he must be a good listener. By hearing what the mentor has to say about his experience allows the mentee to review the footsteps taken by his mentor to achieve the results that the mentee wants to emulate. Anthony Robbins used to say €œSuccess leave clues”. If you don’t listen, it’s probably difficult to spot the clues that he has left behind, isn’t it. More often than not, people who are not willing to listen are usually too obsessed with their own ego to earnestly learn anything out of the experience. In the end, they’re just wasting their own time.

Next, is to ask. Asking the right questions in a mentorship goes to show that you digest information from your mentors and encourage 2 way interaction. The action of doing so usually allows concepts to be ingrained into the subconscious and effortlessly sets you in sync with them. Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself relating better to your mentor’s circumstances and start treating their reality as yours! Now, isn’t that fun? You get to live the life of your mentor!

Although it is important to listen to what your mentor has to say, you don’t necessary have to agree with him. Just because he’s your mentor doesn’t mean his approach would be suitable for you. That’s why it’s essential for you to speak up diplomatically if you need to. Note the italics on the word diplomatically? If there’re certain recommendations that you feel are against your values, try not to get into a nasty argument with your mentor. Instead, learn to voice out your concerns in a nice manner. You may be thinking €œWhy is this, an attribute to determine if you’re a good mentee? Aren’t a good mentee supposed to be obedient”? A good mentee not only has to account to his mentor but most importantly to himself. When one is compelled to do something that he can’t reach a consensus with, he can feel a great sense of loss that can be easily snowballed into massive de-motivation. In the end, you may just give up. Learning how to say €œno” allows both you and your mentor to grow together as you both agree that different viewpoints can co-exist and stay harmonious.

Last is to be thankful. Do you appreciate your mentor for the things he had taught you? How do you express it? A thank you card? A gift? A peck on the cheeks? No matter what form or action you choose to show your gratitude, please be assured that your mentor will be extremely delighted! As an implementation consultant, my job requires me to travel to provide user systems training and one of the greatest sense of satisfaction comes from the €œthank yous” that are showered. It’s not just about the actual words themselves that makes the difference or the gifts that matter but the thought that counts. It feels fantastic knowing that the things I do for a living helps to enrich lives. It just keeps me going. So, don’t be stingy with your thank yous. They’re very precious to your mentor. Every single bit counts.

(2) List out The Things that You Want to Learn

Take 5 minutes and review these 5 sets of world famous Mentor-Mentee pairings below. What similarities do you find?

  • Audrey Hepburn mentor to Elizabeth Taylor
  • Mariah Carey to Christina Aguilera
  • Joe Wider mentor to Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Earl Shoaff mentor to Jim Rohn
  • Jim Rohn mentor to Anthony Robbins

Do you realize that both mentor and mentees had had great achievements in the same domains? For example, Audrey Hepburn was a world class actress and so was Elizabeth Taylor. Mariah Carey is a vocal powerhouse and so is Christina Aguilera. Joe Wider and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both well known bodybuilding fanatics. Earl Shoaff was the person who taught Jim Rohn how to be a millionaire and Jim, in turn inspired Anthony Robbins to be a motivational speaker just like himself.

You see the connection? Before you approach someone to be your mentor, you’ll need to find out what you want to learn first so that you’ll find the right fit. Are you eager to pick up the ropes of setting up your own business? Do you want to achieve your ideal weight? Do you need spiritual guidance? Etc. Etc. When you start asking yourself such questions, you’ll be contending with yourself to brainstorm on the various possibilities. If you’ve have problems with this, you can try our Goal Setting Tutorial to help define your goals.

(3) Do Your Research on Your Potential Candidates

Once you know what you want, you’ll have to conduct your own research on who or which organization can help you with them. A very interesting method that I’ve used to help me expand my list of contacts is the 6 degrees of separation technique.

Basically this technique is spurned off from the possibility that everyone could be 6 chains away from everyone on the earth. Theoretically that means, if I’ve a friend, let’s call him A, A can be an associate of B who has a classmate C. C can be D’s son and D is E’s wife! That E could possibility be the mentor that you’re looking for!

It definitely helps to start off with the people in your 1st degree of separation. They can be your parents, friends, relatives, neighbours, teachers or organizations that you’ve heard to provide great coaching programs. Then as you gather more research and references on them such as reading up on the testimonials of people who have successfully graduated from the coaching course, work outwards into the 2nd degree of separation and so on, by calling them and seeking their opinions if they have any good recommendations on a good mentor you can consider.

The objective of the exercise is to generate a lean and clean list of potential candidates you can approach to be your mentor!

(4) Approach the People that Makes You Click

The last step is to approach the people you’ve short listed. There’re 2 main ways you can approach them. If it’s a personal mentorship you’re seeking, you can call, email or even meet them up in person. One thing to note however, is to avoid jumping into the mentorship topic immediately when you start talking to him. Instead, strike the conversation first in the areas that he’s working on. If it’s a book that you know he’s writing, check with him about the progress of his work and ask questions relating to what you think are important to your need for a mentor. If what he says doesn’t seem to contain much insight, try tapping on his 2nd degree of separation for any recommendations of a mentor. Move on to the next contact on your list, when you notice that he’s beginning to show signs of disinterest or reluctance.

If it’s a remote mentorship you’re looking for, start reading the articles, listening to the podcasts of the person whom you’re interested to learn from. Suppose you like his standpoint, guidance, join his community by commenting on his blog or contributing to his forum. Sooner than you realize, you’ll start to appreciate his opinions and regards his general advice as if it’s addressed personally to your circumstances! Naturally, if you don’t like what you’re reading, you can always check out the next person on your list.


6 Responses to “How to Find a Good Mentor”

  1. Bernard Ng at 2:29 pm

    Always look for a mentor who has gone down the road which you are heading. There are some who have the wisdom but have not been down the road.

  2. Ellesse at 1:57 pm

    Bernard, yeah. A mentor is there for us to model after against the success that he’s already achieved. Someone who walks the talk. If he’s never gone through what you want to achieve, you’ll probably ask “Why should I listen to you?”.

  3. Dammy at 10:29 pm

    realy, i wil like 2 say dat Ur lesson has truely given me enomous knowledge about mentorship. Am a musician, a singer and also an instrumentalist, pls enlighten me more on how 2 get a mentor for both fields.
    more greece 2 Ur elbow.
    U’re doing great job, kip it up.

  4. Ellesse at 2:08 am

    Dammy, thanks for the compliments! At the end of the day, regardless of the industry or field you’re in, the same approach applies. I presume that by asking your question, you’ve fulfilled points #1 and #2 outlined in my article and the next natural step would be conducting research on your potential candidates. Ask yourself, are there any singing schools or academy that you can sign up? Over here, we’ve got some renowned singing schools that have mushroomed after a popular singing contest. Do some research on them (ask in internet forums, friends) and find one that’s closely aligned to your genre, your learning objectives etc. Also check whether there’s any non-profit organization (such as your church choir or any district orchestra) that you can join to learn more about singing or playing other forms of instruments. There’s definitely someone in that organization who knows a lot about that field that can possibly be your potential mentor. Do remember to google on the net for great forums, blogs on music and singing. There’s a famous country singer, Christine Kane who writes a great blog. One of enthusiasts in that same area could be your mentor.

    The options are bountiful and I’ll recommend you to sit down in a corner with a piece of paper and write down all the sources that comes to your mind and slowly branch out into the details. A kind of mind mapping actually.

    You’ll be amazed at how much you’d already know.

  5. dammy at 6:53 am

    … i must realy confess n tel U dat U’r realy doing a great job, kip it up d Lord is Ur strenght. my comment is dat i am a musician, a singer n as wel an instrument, n am realy in search 4 very suitable mentor who happns 2 b a singer n also a Bassist. pls giv me Ur recommendations. tnx

  6. Ellesse at 2:50 am

    Dammy, I’d love to help you but my knowledge in the music area is pretty limited! How about checking with Christine Kane? I know she’s a great singer and plays the guitar…


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