'Everyone can benefit from a mentor' - East Valley Tribune: Business

'Everyone can benefit from a mentor'

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Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 8:26 pm | Updated: 3:19 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Discovering a mentor to help you define and reach your goals may be the best step toward success in your career. A mentor may be someone who is already a success in your chosen field. It may be someone you admire. It may be someone in a field you want to move into.

No matter who it is, here are some guidelines on how to find a mentor and how to get the most out of your time together, according to career and motivational experts.

R.J. Lancaster owns and operates the Education and Learning Institute, a publishing and research company “focusing on human potential.” He also is a motivational speaker and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Phoenix.

“Every person I’ve known or read about has had a least one partner. No victory is won by himself,” Lancaster said.

He cites Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and George Lucas and Frances Ford Coppola as examples.

Lancaster said first and foremost you and your mentor should talk about your goals.

“If you had unlimited human and financial resources, what would you do tomorrow?” That’s a question Lancaster asks of the people he mentors.

He also suggests writing down a job description without a title. “Would you work out of your home? The office? How would you dress? Will you work with people or on projects? How many days a week would you work and what hours of the day?”

All this information will help you and your mentor figure out exactly where your passion lies.

“It starts to paint a picture of your natural God-given talents.”

Based on that information, Lancaster suggests setting up three to five goals for a one-year time period.

“They’ve got to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and have a timeline. Then we meet on a quarterly basis,” he said.

George Fleming, East Valley career coach and owner of Momentum Resources, also suggests working with a mentor to give guidance to your career.

“I think everyone benefits from a mentor, regardless of your level of responsibility in an organization. In fact, having different mentors at different phases of your career can be a tremendous advantage,” he said.

Fleming suggests a mentor can be a “trusted advisor” who tutors, advises and acts as a “sounding board.” Meetings should be scheduled regularly for “unhurried” conversations.

“You want to discuss your successes and your challenges. You want your mentor to be comfortable being candid, even critical, when you share ideas and concerns. If you truly want to improve your performance and your results, you need to share your doubts and weaknesses with your mentor,” he said.

Tips on finding a mentor:

- Check to see if your company offers a mentoring program. If not, check your alma mater or professional organizations.

- Choose a mentor you respect. You can choose someone in your company or outside your company. You may have both.

- Decide why you need a mentor. What skills would you like to develop with your mentor’s assistance?

- Don’t choose your manager. It’s better to have someone with whom you can talk freely about your career and workplace challenges.

- Discuss with your mentor your expectations as well as theirs.

- Choose a mentor who has succeeded in their area of expertise.

- Choose a mentor who has legitimate credentials.

- Make sure that this mentor is known for his integrity.

- Choose mentors who are living examples of what you want to


- Pick a mentor who is a nice person, possess emotional intelligence, a sense of humor and a desire to help you. Don’t choose a mentor who is too controlling, judgmental or a know it all.

Source: R.J. Lancaster and Steven K. Scott’s book, “Mentored by a Millionaire.”

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