The need to be mentored when working on a new skill or area of your life you would like to improve in cannot be over emphasised. A mentor can make a whole lot of difference in a protégé's success, however, there is a combined chemistry and cocktail of both mentor and protégé relationship that results in the desired achievement. A good mentor will not have the same level of achievement with all their protégé's so while it is important to look for the best mentor available to you, the key to your success at the end of the day is you; the protégé.
A good mentor, in summary, is one who is
- experienced and knowledgeable,
- is willing to share their experiences,
- takes the time to listen to you and
- is supportive yet is not afraid to correct.
A fine mentor shows current and ongoing enthusiasm in the field you are interested in. This is especially important because if your mentor is not currently enthusiastic in the area of your interest, their knowledge on current issues may be limited. In a world that is so fast-paced, it is crucial that their knowledge is not nullified or made irrelevant by changes in culture and technology.
Other characteristics of a good mentor are high moral values and humility. If you are to learn anything from anyone, you want to learn to do it right. You also do not want a mentor who thinks they are all that and no one can do anything better than them because they may only want to take you as far as they went and no further. Such a person may also not want to face the reality that where they once had no opportunity changes in society and technology may have presented the opportunity today.
Now occasionally, you will find a person with all these attributes but the reality is that majority of people you want to learn from do not have all these characteristics. Mentors may not exactly be older and wiser in how they relate to people. Sometimes the person showing you the ropes is your old school mate; someone your own age who is still very competitive.
As a protégé understand that mentors are just human beings.... they are not perfect even if they think they are. Remember their role is to give direction and eventually the actual decisions to go ahead or not depends on you. In reality, you cannot blame your mentor for your failure. The buck stops with you. So if you know the weaknesses of your mentor and you are sure this ‘weakness’ is working against your success, feel free to be cautious when dealing with that aspect of them.
Do you have a mentor? What are you having to deal with now that you feel in your guts is the right thing to but your mentor has an opposing view? The fact is that whatever you are dealing with it is all part of the mentoring process and dealing with it will make you all the wiser and a great mentor to those you will meet and who may need your mentorship in future. Take it all in your stride!