LL3: Find a Mentor

I had originally titled this post – Have a mentor, but that is not what I want to communicate. The new title is much more appropriate to the lesson that I have learned. Having a mentor is great. Many of us have mentors. I have many mentors. I need many mentors for different areas in my life. NO ONE PERSON HAS IT ALL FIGURED OUT. Don’t ask me why I bolded that, but it is not enough to “Have a Mentor.”

Before you can “Have a Mentor,” it is absolutely important to Find a Mentor. I say that because it has to be an active pursuit. A passive attitude – thinking that a mentor will come to you is very rare. Whether the mentoring is formal with set questions, a schedule, and a contract; or informal without any of these elements, Mentors have to be sought out. You have to look for those that you want to be like and then ask them to mentor you. Get into a relationship with them and ask to see if they would be willing to mentor you. You be proactive.

I have heard way to many people talk about how they “want to be mentored.” Good – go make it happen. It will not just fall on your lap. I have talked to many people that wished – this person mentored them. I have talked to people that wanted to be “discipled” by this person or that person. I wish it worked that way. I wish that mentors were proactive about seeking out mentees, but I am finding out that it is a rare thing. If you have and an experience where someone has sought you out to mentor you – you have found a rare and beautiful thing. Hold on to that and learn as much as you can from that mentor. Then be the type of mentor that seeks people to mentor.

I want to tell you about one of mine. His name is Tom Yankoff. Is he a perfect person — sure, but I don’t live with him. For that information, you are going to have to ask someone that his lived with him if he’s perfect. I can tell you that he has poured into me like you wouldn’t believe. I want him to mentor me because he is a great leader. He’s very tough and very gentle. He will tell me the stuff that I need to hear that no one else will tell me – or probably more accurately he will tell me the stuff that I will only hear from some that I allowed to do so. Tom’s experience is vast and varied. I am learning and gleaning from his experiences. He provides insight into leadership, but more importantly, he connects it to my life and my personality. I share that with you to say that it’s invaluable to me to be mentored by him. I share that with you to also say that I drive up to see him. I try to buy him the cup of coffee when he lets me – (typically he’s there before me so he’s already got a cup and he always tries to buy mine. I get to buy him a cup or two every now and then). He’s a busy guy. I can’t believe that he’ll drive halfway to my house in the complete other direction from his work to meet with me for an hour or two in the beginning of the day. Only a true friend and great mentor would do that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not say that I do all the work because he gives more than I can ever give to him, but it was something that I had to pursue. We met once because I need some information for a job. We’ve kept meeting because I needed his mentoring in my life. Who’s your Tom Yankoff? Tom Yankoff is my Tom Yankoff.

For all of my Leadership Lessons

6 Comments

  1. i’m just now beginning to grasp the value and importance of this…so much so, i’m recommending it to friends in arkansas. i think most people have learned to ‘rise to the occasion’…so when we surround ourselves with mentors which are more knowledgeable in their specific area of expertise, we begin to absorb and rise closer to their level of knowledge. if not that, we at least gain perspective, which is worthwhile enough on its own.

  2. Thanks for recommending. It’s just such a good lesson that I’m learning. Thanks for the post. When I wrote this, I thought about the time that you asked me about my mentors and who pours into. I was surprised to be able to name 15 people almost right away that build into me. It’s great to surround ourselves with mentors.

  3. ha, i remember that conversation! the cycle of the whole thing is the best part…surround yourself with mentors, but beyond that, mentees…what’s gained knowledge if you aren’t passing it along for the benefit of everyone-useless. learn/absorb->teach->repeat

  4. I’m reading this and this is the reason why my career has taken off. Someone saw the potential in me to help me further my career which has taken off ever since. They took me on and has become a mentor to me.

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