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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Do You Respect Your Mentor?

Full Disclosure:

I have only been meeting with a mentor for about 3 months, on a monthly basis.  I am not an expert mentor, nor an expert mentee. 

My purpose in the following post is simply to share with you some suggestions and ideas that I am trying to implement into my relationship with my mentor that I believe will make it more beneficial--and I hope you can take some of the suggestions and utilize them as you will!


To begin, let me share with you why I decided to have a mentor.  This past year I have felt stuck.  I dont mean just stuck, I mean STUCK!!!!! And to be sure that you and I are on the same page with that, I'm talking good ol' country boy, mud boggin', burried to the axles, wheels spinnin', mud flyin' everywhere, STUCK!! Got the picture now?  If not, here's one for ya:

Photo courtesy of margaretkilljoy, Some Rights Reserved
Stuck.  Now you get it, right? Anyways, I felt stuck and kept thinking that I needed to find a mentor.  Someone smarter than me, more successful than me, better looking than me (well, I could at least shoot for the first two!). 
The final push was a blog post by Mr. Chris LoCurto posted about the same time titled, "Why You Need A Mentor"
Now, maybe it's just me, but sometimes I feel like God is just hiding around the corner with a two-by-four, waiting for me to walk by; and when I do... 
Upside the head. 
That's kinda how I felt when I read his blog post.  That post seemed to be God saying "You need to get a mentor Ding Dong!" (I'm dense enough I don't think its too far of a stretch to think God may just call me a "ding dong" at times...) 
So I sent a text to a friend of mine that I'd been wanting to ask to be my mentor and asked if he'd be willing to sit down with me regularly and share with me some of his vast knowledge.  He readily agreed.  And THAT is how I began my mentoring relationship. 

Making the most of Mentoring

One thing that I believe is very important is to respect your mentor's time.  They are doing you a HUGE favor by being willing to meet with and counsel you. 
For this reason, here are a few things that I have tried to do, and am trying to implement, to make the most out of the time with my mentor. 
1.    Time limit
Dont let your mentoring sessions drag on like a freakin' Major League baseball game (I'm not a baseball fan, I'd rather endure Chinese water torture while laying on a bed of cacti in my skivvies than watch a baseball game!). In my (amateur) opinion 60 minutes is long enough for a mentoring session, maybe 90.  Have a time in mind and ask your mentor if that is acceptable.  Then when you are there STICK TO IT!!! Your mentor is busy with their own life, don't take all their time or they will dread meeting with you.     
2.    Come prepared with Questions 
Don't try to "wing" your mentoring session.  If his knowledge, expertise and insight are valuable enough for you to want to learn from him, his time is too valuable to be wasted in a conversation that has no focus or direction.  Come with 3-4 questions that you want answered, it'll assure that the time is not wasted.
3.    Share your goals
A week before our first mentoring session, I emailed a list of goals I'd set for myself to my mentor to review.  We discussed them at that first session.  Sharing your goals gives your mentor insight into where you desire to go.  This will allow your mentor to help you work towards and achieve those goals.  It also shows the level of trust and respect you have for him as your mentor that you are willing to share your personal goals. 
4.   Ask for an assignment
Ask your mentor what she would recommend you do between now and your next meeting to incorporate the things you talked about into your life.  This shows that you have a desire to change and grow, and that you take seriously the counsel that she is giving you.
5.   Return and report
When you come to your next meeting report how you have done on the things you discussed the time before.  Discuss how you did on the assignments you accepted, what went well, what you could improve.  Ask follow up questions to clarify principles you discussed.  Being ready and willing to report on your successes and failures is evidence of your desire to learn and grow.
6.   Show gratitude
If you meet at a restaurant and have lunch or breakfast, pick up the tab.  Shoot your mentor a text or email afterwards thanking them for their time and insight.  I wrote a letter to Jason's wife and kids.  In the letter I told them that I wanted them to know what a great guy their husband and father was.  I told them that I knew they must make alot of sacrifices with as busy as he is, and that I, for one, was grateful to them for their sacrifice so he could spend a little time with me every month.  I got a text the next week saying thanks for the letter and that it had brought him to tears.  Gratitude goes a long ways.

What it comes down to...

Making the most out of the time you have with your mentor really comes down to one thing.  Respect and appreciate your mentor and their time.  If you will do these six things, you will get more out of your mentoring sessions, your mentor will be more engaged in mentoring you, and both of you will grow and develop in ways that would not be possible without your relationship. 
I hope implementing these suggestions will help you.  I am looking forward to implementing them in my own life with my mentor. 
If you don't have a mentor that you are meeting with regularly, I would strongly recommend finding one!  Read "Why You Need A Mentor" if you still aren't convinced of the importance of such a relationship. 
Question: What do you do to make the most of the time you spend with your mentor(s)?
Thanks for taking the time to peruse this blog! If you've found this information timely and beneficial, please share it with others!
Twitter: @Skropp2


  1. I don't have "mentor" officially, but I do have a couple of guys I reflect off of. I try to value their time by being prepared. I also try to express interest in them- I go to them because I like what I see in their lives. Maybe I'll get a regular mentor to get me from mental to mentee.

    1. I have a lot of people that I Follow and bounce ideas, but I think you'll find that having an actual mentor will be a huge help to you. There's something great that happens when you intentionally sit down to be mentored. Thanks for reading my friend.

  2. I don't have a mentor but after reading your post as well as Chris', I will definitely give it some serious thought. Then I will be able to answer your question. A mentor may really add some value to my life... Someone I didn't know I was missing. I am the type of person that keeps a lot of things to myself and a mentor would be someone that I could really share with and boost my efficiency. Thanks for this post.

    1. You keep to yourself Dannon? Haha. I would've never guessed ;). I can tell you that having a mentor has been a HUGE blessing to me! One of the greatest things about it has been that once my mentor agreed to be such, it was like having a business/career/life coach on retainer. When I have a question or need an opinion, I always know I can call or shoot him a text!
      It's changing how I approach and make decisions for the better, because I'm seeking counsel.
      Thanks for reading my friend! You know I love ya!