Are you ready for a mentor?

Although mentorship can be formal or informal it is always best to be the one who asks to be mentored rather than it being imposed on you. While mentorship doesn’t require the kind of prepping needed in the Olympics; preparation is involved. One must be mentally ready to open up to a stranger about your success and failures and even personal struggles. Ask yourself, do I have the time for mentorship? Do I really want this? Can value be added? If the response is no to these questions, then you are not ready for mentorship.

If you respond in the affirmative, remember, like any new relationship, trust takes time. While you are building that trust, here are a few important things to remember in order to get the most out of the relationship.

Be prepared

Yes, there are a million and one things to do but now you have one more. Come to the first meeting with your mentor, ready to lay the foundation. Your mentor will not know you even if they have heard about your business. If it is all too hazy, then do a presentation or make notes. Ask questions! It is good to understand the background of your mentor in order to deduce what skills or characteristic is useful to you. When asked to do research or given suggestion to read or network with others, add them as a task to your calendar and do it. Excuses are not only off-put, it says you are not ready for someone to input time into you and your business.

Kadeon Richards, Mentorship Manager


Respect for time

Mentors have jobs, businesses, families and whole host of things and activities to attend to; so be respectful of their time. If you are unavailable, communicate that ahead of schedule. There are only 24-hours in a day so scheduling your mentoring session per day, week or month may be useful in keeping time. Remember, your mentor may not be familiar with your culture and may find tardiness an insult. Respect for time goes both ways but it is more important for you as the mentee because you need to get the most out of this relationship.

This is for me

Take personal ownership of this process. Get as much as you can from someone else’s expertise and experience. Ask questions, seek clarification and insert your ideas. Do not let your mentor steal the show. Where the relationship is not moving you forward then politely communicate this with your mentor and end the relationship.

Be Patient! Stay Humble

While it is great to be hungry for success, you need all the help you can to get there. Success doesn’t come overnight and neither will the change that mentorship can effect. Don’t think you are better than or know more than someone with more experience.  That person could help to make or break your reputation and or business.

Feedback vs Criticism

In every genuine relationship, expect feedback and or criticism. In a mentoring relationship, this is the rule- you must be given feedback. Take the time to reflect. Ask yourself if a comment from your mentor is an advice, a feedback or criticism. To distinguish between the two, Oxford dictionary defines criticism as:

“The expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes”

And feedback is defined as:

“Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement”

Mentorship at times comes with tough love- someone point out what you suck at. Before you get offended, ask yourself if the feedback makes sense? Is it in your best interest? Am I being criticized or given feedback?

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