The numbers have spoken! Studies show that students who regularly met with a mentor were 52% less likely to skip school and 46% more likely to say no to drugs. At-risk adults with mentorship expressed more interest in pursuing higher education. It makes sense; a mentor can offer a unique perspective on your circumstances and also help you talk through the situations you face. There isn’t a person on the planet who wouldn’t benefit from having a mentor at some stage in their life.
Building a mentoring relationship with someone can be time-consuming work that shouldn’t be abused or taken lightly. Here are three essential indicators to help you identify the right person to be your mentor.
You have to be interested in the mentee enough to want to be like him.
There are plenty of high-achieving, high-earning individuals that you probably wouldn’t want in your life. That’s not to say you can’t learn from someone who doesn’t share your values, has different interests, and works in a field you find less than stimulating. But a mentor should be a person who you strive to imitate. Ask yourself these questions… Who inspires you to work harder and smarter? Who do you admire for their integrity and kindness? Who do you find yourself emulating and feeling good about it? That’s the person you want as a mentor.
Is it possible to develop a true friendship with the person? Mentorship is NOT just having an older buddy around you can swap jokes with. There must be a real bond of friendship for it to work. It’s worth considering what you look for in a friend. Do you seek someone who respects your decisions and opinions? Are you comfortable with appropriate, fair, and constructive criticism? Or do you surround yourself with people that go along with anything? Nothing wrong with friends or acquaintances, but a mentor must also have the interpersonal skills and emotional maturity to achieve a deeper level of connection. It’s the only way they’ll be able to speak into your life, challenge you, and help you level up.
Will this person challenge you? Ultimately, a mentor is someone who pushes you to be better. Someone who fuels your personal growth and accelerates your maturing process. That means they can’t shy away from taking you to task for your failures. But they’ll also celebrate your victories with you and won’t take credit for your accomplishments. They will point out your weaknesses, while at the same time giving you tools to overcome them and move on. The right mentor for you realizes that the truth is a powerful tool of change, that encouragement is the best motivator, and that accomplishment is the ultimate reward.
Of course, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with casual, relaxed friends. Not every hangout has to be an intense brainstorming session or motivational seminar. But don’t neglect the relationships that will push and challenge you to grow. Look for the people in your life who inspire you and start a conversation. Ask if they want to grab some coffee and talk about how they do it. Put in the work to build a real mentorship with someone you want to be like and watch the fruits of that friendship flourish!