by Joshua Okello
It can be awkward approaching strangers or people you are not used to talking to and asking them to be your mentor. Even though it is highly advisable to get a mentor, a lot of people do not have them because of lack of guts to ask people to be their counselor. It takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to get a mentor to share your world and life with.
Mentor programs are peer learning programs and often times result to a symbiotic benefit. It is a give and get back, a two way traffic where people who want to see change, development and growth encourage and guide each other. It is important to ask yourself reasons why you need a mentor. What is that you are lacking that you can only get in a mentor? You must also ask yourself; how is your mentor going to benefit from you? How will time spent with you lead to growth for your mentor? To get a mentor one ought to:
Identify Potential Mentors
I personally have three mentors; a self-development mentor or a coach, a business mentor and a spiritual mentor who happens to be my associate pastor. These are people I look after and act as my role model. I admire their life style, their work ethics and discipline.
When I was looking for a spiritual mentor, I gathered courage and asked my pastor to be my mentor, he prayed about it and told me that he had never mentored anybody and so thought that our time together would not benefit any of us. That was an honest answer even though it was discouraging to me. It is normal to get rejection therefore never give up.
Ask as Many as Possible
This is something I learned the hard way. I had an assumption that my pastor was going to say yes to me when I asked him and that turned out to be false. It killed my enthusiasm and affected my spiritual life too. I was not ready for a “NO!”
It is therefore important to have plan B. People who you think can help you grow in whatever area you want to be perfect in. Never lose hope however many people it takes to ask before you get one. By the time I asked my current spiritual mentor who was not even an associate pastor by then, I had asked 3 others who told me almost the same thing as my head pastor told me. Never take “No” personal.
Make it Symbiotic
It can be draining to give and get nothing in return. Something I advise those I mentor and coach is to always give more than they get. How can your mentor benefit from meeting you once a week or twice a month? Before you get, be ready to give and after you give, be ready to give more. I can testify that the more you give, the more you get. Never just give, show that you truly and genuinely care for people. Giving can be in form of time, advise, prayers but not only material giving.
There are very successful people in areas that you are interested in. The best way to ask for a mentor that has always worked for me is to identify their strength, a breakthrough or a major success they have achieved and let them know that you admire that effort. Then ask them for at least 30 minutes of their time in a month to meet up and get to hear and learn from their stories. They should clearly know that you are interested in the same field they are in.
While doing this, it is important to know that people like being appreciated, congratulated and praised but remember to never overdo it. People also like to talk about themselves, therefore listen and ask as many questions as possible.
This is how I make sure that I score a second meeting with my mentors. Before we end our meeting, I always ask if there are projects he would like me to start researching on if I want to see improvement in my life. I always give them a month or two before I give them results. Allow challenges they give you and act towards them because the same things are what made them heroes and that is why you need them.
We always want to make things happen, show how smart and determined we are but guess what, a lot of successful people are not interested in them. It is important therefore to start thinking organically. Thinking organically is a strategic way of building relationships based on common interests hustle-free. Never make it look like you are trying so hard. Just make it happen.
Let it look as natural as it can get and remember to do your homework.
You are dealing with busy people and if anybody has allowed you to get an hour of their life time, you should appreciate it. Bring a note book and a pen. Avoid typing on your electronic as it kills morale and shows lack of attention.
I also learned from my friend who is the Chief Operations Officer of Canadian Cancer Center that always remember to send the meeting minutes to anybody you meet with in less than 24 hours of your meeting. Even if it is a phone call or a Skype meeting, write the main points down and send them via email. This way, you let them know that you are keen on following details and that you are really interested in growth and change you want.
If you do these, you are not only going to be successful but you are going to achieve mega success. Learn from people who have done it.
© Joshua Okello 2015.
Joshua Okello is a B.A graduate in Business Administration, International Development and Philosophy. He is also the author of the book Strategies of Entrepreneurial Leadership He has exceptional skills in organizing, coordinating projects and capacity building initiatives with key emphasis on livelihood programs; microfinance through savings and credit led models; business development services and entrepreneurial leadership. He is also the founder and Executive Director of Succeed Africa Relief Organization, a Canadian Christian Organization geared towards giving hope and transformation in lives of the chronically poor in Africa.