Over the course of my life, I’ve had a wealth of amazing mentors. They are all a large part of the reason I am where I am today. I was thinking back on what made each of these men such great mentors in my life and came up with a simple list of 5 main characteristics. If you’ve ever had an interest in making a difference in someone’s life I encourage you to take this list to heart.
The best mentor’s I’ve had don’t just “hang out.” That’s a friendship. A mentoring relationship has to have intentionality… a propose. I’m not saying that you need to go through a book or have a 12 step plan for what every gathering is going to cover, but without a mutual desire to make the most of your time sharing and gaining insight from the other, you’re time will be wasted and eventually neglected. Be prepared with a plan to be purposeful in your gatherings.
No impact will be made if there isn’t heartfelt honesty and authenticity at the table. This is for both parties too. I’ve had to confront some of my greatest weaknesses as a leader over breakfast with my mentors. When we choose to hide, we choose to hinder the growth of ourselves. This won’t lead to any sort of life changing impact, but just a waste of time.
Whenever I don’t see someone on a regular basis, it takes forever catching up when we do get to see each other. The same is true when you don’t get a chance to see the person you’re mentoring. You don’t have they time to get into the stuff that matters. The more regular the time I have with those who have mentored me in the past, the better the relationships.
There’s a difference between an advisor and a coach. An advisor will give you input when you tell them that you messed up… however a coach will give you input when they know you’ve messed up. Mentors need to be more like coaches than advisors. Choose to invest into the life you’re wanting to mentor, don’t just stand on the sidelines during the big games. BE at the practices and know what’s going on in their lives.
Finally, a great mentoring relationship doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time over countless cups of coffee, hours of conversation and a plenty of debates and arguments. However, for those who do choose to preserve, great things are to come. Like iron sharpening iron, mentoring is the process of one man or one woman sharpening the other. Be patient and persistent.