Finding a Mentor Shouldn't Be Hard

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves
— Steven Spielberg

It was 2008 and I had been married for all of 9 months when Keith Chancey informed me that he was going to be my mentor. Before that I had never considered or even dreamed of having a mentor. I didn’t know what a mentor did. I didn’t even know what it meant to be a protege. But over the course of 12 months I learned… and I will never be without a mentor again.

A mentor is simply a guide in your stage life. I say simply for the definition, but the actual relationship is much more complex. A mentor is someone in whom you can share your worries, doubts, triumphs, plateaus, and much more. They listen, encourage, speak into and give advice based off of your relationship. That is truly what it is, a relationship.

I have had many mentors in my life. I had a mentor for my job in a non-profit. I had a mentor for my time in graduate school. I had a mentor for leadership development. I had a mentor for life balance. I had a mentor for business. Some of these I had simultaneously. This brings me to some common myths in having a mentor. Let’s dispel some of them.

Myth #1: I can only have 1 mentor at a time. If you believe this then let me inform you that you are stunting your growth. If you can chew gum and walk you can have more than one mentor at a time.

Myth #2: The mentor relationship needs to last for a long time. My shortest mentor relationship lasted for 2 weeks and was immensely impactful. Conversely, my longest lasted for 2 years, then we took a 3 year break, and now he is a mentor again and has been for the last 9 months. There is no pre-determined timeline.

Myth #3: I don't need a mentor. If you believe this, then you need a mentor more than most. Everyone should have a mentor!

Myth #4: I am stuck with the mentor I have. Unless they are paying you to be their protege… no one is stuck. Thank them for their time and wisdom that they have given you and that you hope to remain in contact from time to time. Preferably do this in person.

How do I find a mentor?

Finding a mentor seems challenging, follow these steps to make it easier.

  1. Pick an area in your life that you would like a mentor. (Ex: work, marriage, parenting, leadership, etc.)

  2. List out 5 people that you greatly respect in that area. (Note: List them even if it is a long shot)

  3. Now order them from greatest to less great.

  4. Now ask them to mentor you!!!

Asking Some To Be Your Mentor

This part often feels like the most daunting. It doesn’t have to be. Follow these simple steps and ask someone today!

  1. List out your non-negotiable items.

    • These are items that you are looking for in a mentor.

    • Here are some of examples:

      • Someone who has a family.

      • Can commit to at least 6 months.

      • Has the time to give.

      • Doesn’t mind meeting virtually.

  2. Tell them you will do the following

    • Pay for coffee

    • Never be late

    • Ask great questions

    • Take notes

    • Apply those notes and come back with results

    • Ask more questions

  3. Craft an email that looks like this. (copy and paste… I won’t be mad)

<Potential Mentor Name>

I’m reaching out to ask something of you. I believe strongly that to better myself as a <area of mentorship>, I need a mentor in my life. When thinking of people in my life that I admire and have the qualities I want in a mentor, I thought of you. 

I wanted to reach out and ask if you might be interested in mentoring me. I know that you are a busy and understand if it is not something you could do right now, but I would greatly value it.

I can tell you that I am looking for someone who can <insert your non negotiables>. I hold this mentor relationship in high regard and will not take advantage of your time. 

I want to let you know what I promise back to you:

    1. I will always pay.

    2. I will never be late.

    3. I will take notes and ask good questions.

    4. I will apply what I learned and talk to you about it.

Let me know if this is something you might be interested in and we could possibly speak in person and discuss further. Thank you for the consideration!

That is all it takes. If they say “yes” then set up a time that works for both of you and see where it goes. If they say “no”, then thank them for considering it and move to the next name on your list.

You might have a mentor in your life and are wanting more or feel you need a level of relationship that is different than a mentor. You might be looking for a professional coach. Click the link below to see if a professional coaching relationship is right for you.