Sun | Jan 29, 2023

A good mentor more valuable than money

Published:Wednesday | April 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Glenford Smith, Career Writer

If you are serious about excelling in your career, you need mentors.

The dictionary defines mentor as "a wise and trusted guide or teacher". The common denominator of all super-achieving people throughout history is that they all had one or more mentors. Military genius Alexander the Great studied under Aristotle.

Multi-award-winning journalist Ian Boyne attributes his attainments to the mentorship of Carl Stone, Rex Nettleford and John Maxwell.

Publishing geniuses Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, the mega best-selling co-authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books, were mentored by multimillionaire W. Clement Stone and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller, respectively.

Warren Buffett, the greatest investor and one-time richest man in the world, was mentored by stock-market genius Benjamin Graham, author of the great classic The Intelligent Investor.

If you're going to be among the best in your field, you must find a mentor.

Here are some tips for where and how to find suitable mentors who will help you become your best in your career.

At School

Some schools and universities have a formal mentorship component in their programmes. Make full use of this if you have this opportunity. For others who may not have this component integrated into their programmes, you should strategically establish a mentoring relationship with suitable instructors, professors or faculty members at your school, college or university.

At Work

If you're not in such a situation, then you will need to be more creative. Study the leaders and star performers in your company, people you can ask to guide you. Also, consider investigating potential mentors in other companies but in the same industry, or even different industries altogether. Establish contact, foster a relationship, and reach out and ask for the guidance that you need.

Networking Forums

To find a mentor, you must be willing to participate in activities and forums that will put you in proximity with people who can help you. Attend meetings, conferences, trade shows or other activities put on by potential mentors and their organisations, or special interest groups. These might include Kiwanis, Optimist, or professional associations. Participate in their seminars, volunteer for committees or projects they are involved with.

Books and the Media

You can also find great mentors through their books or their work in the media. Make contact with individuals personally by phone or email and request a consultation, or the opportunity to study with them.

Most successful people are willing to help others, but are often busy, so express your appreciation for their help in some way. Take the time to know your mentor, understand what they do, and how you could help them in return for their time and advice. Be crystal clear about your own goals so you can intelligently apply your mentor's lessons. Remember: 'When the student is ready, the teacher will appear'.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and a personal achievement strategist.