In business seminars and self help books, gurus spend a ton of time talking AT you about what you should do and who you should be. Habits you should already be working on, and actions that breed success. Nothing is wrong with any of that, but, when you talk to people who have achieved real success, more often than not, they have had someone they consider a mentor helping them along, or teaching them important truths. So, what should you look for in a Yoda to your Luke? Great question! Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W a public relations company in NYC, has 5 traits you need to consider.
They are Committed to You
A mentor relationship is defined by commitment. It’s not about a guy who will show you “a few things,” and then leave you hanging. That person is a teacher, not necessarily a mentor. Mentors invest, and plan to stick with you for a longer haul. They are not interested in just transferring skill, they are interested in teaching you a perspective, and a specific worldview.
They Share your Values
Or, better said, you share their values. If you try to learn from someone who does not share your values, you CAN learn from them, but they will never qualify to be a mentor. You can’t become like someone who does not share the same way of looking at the world. You can try, but that’s not mentoring. That’s mimicking. And, eventually all copycats are either outclassed, or expendable.
They have Achieved Legitimate Success
Knowledge and experience are keys to being a successful mentor, but they are not the ONLY keys. You need to align yourself with someone who is where you want to be. Someone who understands the climb by virtue of having made that climb. You may think you know what you need to know, but a successful mentor can tell you and show you things you would never think to look for on your own.
They Have the Time
This one is huge. Someone may have plenty of success, but at a certain point in your business development process, you will get to the point where you have plenty of success, but zero time. You are still busting your butt day and night to continue the climb. Eventually, you will reach a comfortable plateau. Until then, teach, but don’t try to mentor. And don’t ask someone in that position to mentor you. They may mean well, but in the end they won’t have the time to give you what you need.
They Need Your Help
This last trait is one that many people miss. The mentor relationship should never just be one-way. As the one being mentored, you need to bring definitive value to the table. What can you do to make your mentor’s job easier, or better?
While Torossian said there are other important traits that will change in importance or dimension person-to-person, these five traits are those you can take to the bank. Find them, and you are on your way to learning the answers to questions you never even knew to ask.