Last month, we took at look at an old familiar recipe for Frog Soup . We talked about what it is, how you make it, and most importantly, how to take the Quantum Leap (making a conscious decision to recognize, magnify and put into service your unique abilities at the highest level) required to get the heck out of the soup pot. Since making a Quantum Leap requires jumping FIRST and THEN reaching for the hand that will support you, it is time to talk about how you find that hand when you need it.
How do you find the mentor that is right for you?
Here are 5 key things to look for in a mentor:
1. Choose Someone Who “Gets It”
You wouldn’t dream of hiring a golfer to teach you how to waterski, and the same is true with a mentor. You want your mentor to be someone who has been there, someone who can relate to your experiences and your specific situation.
As you’re building your career within a large, bureaucratic organization around your life, rather than the other way around, it helps to have somebody who understands the context of your situation. Someone who gets the rules, regulations, and restrictions (real or perhaps perceived) that apply in your world. Your mentor can best help you apply a new way of thinking when she understands the environment in which you are operating.
Your mentor should be somebody who is willing to push you beyond your own previous experiences and limitations. I don’t mean that she should ask you to do something crazy or unsafe, but a good mentor will gently push you as you step into a new way of thinking, a new way of being, and a new way of living.
Let’s face it, doing what you’ve always done will get you what you’ve always gotten. And doing things differently can be uncomfortable. You want a mentor who forces you to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
3. Choose Someone Who Honors Your Individuality
Find a mentor who is interested in helping you become the best version of you. . . as opposed to a clone of them.
Each of us is on a different path and each of us has different Gifts (the sum total of your talents, skills, abilities, experiences, physical attributes, quirks, and “flaws.”) Your Gifts are unique to you. They are yours to give to the world and if you don’t give them, they will never be given. Therefore, you need a mentor who is committed to helping you magnify your best Gifts.
4. Choose Someone Outside Your Normal Circle
It is said that you become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If you find yourself in the soup pot, seeking help from someone else who is also in the soup pot is not productive.
Intentionally choose a mentor who is outside of your normal circle, and ideally outside your organization. She’ll have a different perspective and be able to see options that you can’t. She is also less likely to have an organizationally imposed “hidden agenda.” (NOTE: This point is not intended to contradict Point 1. It is intended to highlight the need for balance between context and perspective.) If you’re ready for the kind of change that will get you out of the pot, you must assume responsibility for your own leap.
5. Choose Someone You Trust
In order for a mentor to truly be effective, you must be able to trust her. You need someone who will hold your discomfort, your celebrations and your disappointments in highest respect and confidentiality. When you find someone who will let you be completely raw and honest and share your most authentic self, that’s when the magic of the Quantum Leap really starts to kick in.
On your journey from Frog Soup to Royal Buffet, you will encounter incredible success that you have not seen before. You will also experience valuable lessons that will be uncomfortable. Your mentor is there to teach you how to let success and discomfort be easy.
If you recognize that you’re done with Frog Soup…if you know it is time for you to jump out of the pot and take your place at the Royal Buffet, I want to be the first to congratulate and acknowledge you.
And, if after making your clear, committed decision, you wonder if I might be the right mentor for you, let’s talk. You can apply for a complimentary Leadership Design Consultation HERE, and we’ll see if we’re a good fit.