Secrets Your Business Mentor Won’t Tell You

Or as the saying goes, no man is an island. The helping hand of an experienced mentor can be valuable to everyone

A mentor is not a panacea for the challenges you face in your business. A mentor will not tell you what to do, when to do it, or how to move forward. However, he can help you achieve the same end result on your own. You just have to be willing to put in the work

In fact, there are many common misconceptions about the mentor-protégé relationship and what you can expect from it. Here are eight secrets your business mentor will not tell you

1. I can not mentor you because I am already mentoring someone else.
Mentoring is supposed to be an intense, personalized, and private experience. If you do not receive personal attention, you have a teacher, not a mentor.

Unfortunately, this presents challenges for both parties. For mentors, it means having to turn down capable protégés if you have already chosen someone else. And for students, it could mean going through the trouble of finding the perfect mentor, only to be turned down for scheduling reasons – which may or may not be explained to you.

Do not overdo it. The goal of a mentoring relationship is progress, and that’s only possible if the mentoring is individualized. There is a mentor or protégé out there for you, but you have to wait until the timing is right.

2. I am not your coach.
A business coach works with someone who has the skills and abilities necessary to be successful but needs help discovering them on their own. A mentor goes beyond that role by helping you develop the skills and knowledge you need to succeed.

3. I can be your friend. In most cases, good mentor-protégé relationships begin as friendships.
A mentor does not necessarily have to come from a formal program or the upper echelons of the company. Really anyone who wants to give you wisdom and advice, even an experienced colleague, can be a valuable mentor.

4. I am not your consultant. A consultant is someone who has specific knowledge, expertise and tools that they use to improve your business – but this type of relationship is not about you learning or improving anything. Mentors should not solve your problems for you – they should teach you how to solve them yourself.

Bill Gates once talked about his mentor Warren Buffett and admired his “desire to teach complex things and put them in a simple form so people can understand them and benefit from all his experience.”

5. I don’t have time for you.
Unfortunately, you may find yourself in a mentoring relationship that is not beneficial. Remember that most successful business people are very busy. So if they do not have time to really guide you, the relationship is not worth your time either.

If your mentor has any ulterior motives, such as a corporate mandate, then they may not truly believe in your success. And if that’s the case? Then he is not capable of guiding you to the success you are striving for.

6. I do not have to be your only mentor.
It is a common misconception that a protégé can only focus on the wisdom of one mentor. In reality, different mentors have different skills and strengths that can help you succeed in both business and life. Take Michael Lee-Chin, a successful philanthropist and businessman who cites Warren Buffet as his business mentor and his mother Hyacinth Gloria Chen as his life mentor.

7. I will not lead you…
A leader tells you which direction to go without necessarily telling you why. A good mentor is more like a guide – someone who shows you the way and helps you follow it.

A mentor is there to help you grow and learn from your experiences and his. If he just gave you all the answers, what would you learn from the experience?

8…But I will advocate for you.
Good mentors become advocates or champions of your success. They truly believe in your potential and may go to extraordinary lengths to promote your skills and value to others who will help you succeed. A good mentor encourages their protégé to “have the courage to persevere through a difficult task.” That’s exactly the advice AG Lafley, chairman and CEO of Procter and Gamble, received from his mentor.

The relationship between mentor and protégé is far from limitless, but if both parties are in it for the right reasons, they can accomplish a lot together.

Tom Kelly of Ideo: “Fail often so you can succeed sooner.”

A good mentor may be able to help you avoid some failures altogether. But for the most part, he or she is there to encourage you and help you with your mistakes – and to take you and your business to new heights you have never dreamed of before.

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