Any long term goal a leader has deals solely with the motivation of multiplying their influence. Influence is multiplied when you are able to connect and lead other potential leaders to a place greater than they can lead themselves. The process of leading leaders to that destination is called mentoring. Leaders cannot be developed in massive crowds. They are developed individually through life-on-life mentoring. Noel Tichy, author of The Cycle of Leadership, said "A company's success is directly tied to its ability to create leaders. The companies with the most leaders are the most successful."
Having mentors in your life is critical to your success in any endeavor. Notice I said the word mentors, not just mentor. Too many people believe one person can lead them to the “promise land,” but that is simply not true. Multiple mentors are what will be needed as you continue growing on your success journey. People have their strengths and weakness, mentors are no exception. In my life I have sought out multiple mentors that have strong qualities in the areas I am looking to develop. I play to their strengths because they will enable my strengths.
Mentors will be one of the most important assets in your leadership walk. Why? Because mentors have a natural characteristic to stretch others beyond the limits they could not do themselves. Mentors in my leadership journey have been the missing pieces to the leadership puzzle that I am not smart enough to discover on my own. I am constantly amazed when people try to accomplish things without benefiting from the evaluated experience of someone who is ahead of them in the journey.
I have been very blessed to learn from many wonderful mentors in my life. Constantly I reflect to make sure I am not taking their wisdom for granted. One of the ways I make sure that I am not taking them for granted is making sure I invest time on the front preparing well thought out questions. The right questions set the right direction for a valuable mentoring session. The depth of your questions proves to a mentor that you are valuing the time he/she is investing in you. Remember, you will get the best from others when you give the best of yourself. How does that principle apply to mentoring? Very simple; you will get the best from your mentors when you first give them great questions. Through interacting with my mentors, I have discovered a mentor does 6 major things for me.
Teaches by example
Offers resources as learning blocks
So now the question begs itself: What are the qualities a good mentor must have? As the saying goes, “there are 2 sure ways to fail: the first is you listen to everyone and the second is that you listen to no one.” Bestselling author Orrin Woodward gave me tremendous insight into this very important question. In an article he wrote on his blog, Orrin listed 5 qualities we should look for in a mentor. Here they are:
1. Character – Anything shared in private stays private.
2. Love – Mentor must love person and want to see them grow.
3. Patience – Mentor must be patient and help student in self discovery.
4. Knowledge – Mentor must have journeyed down road to self discovery to give perspective during challenges.
5. Encouragement – Mentor must encourage student when they feel they are not making progress.
Publilius Syrus was exactly right when he said, "Many receive advice, but only the wise profit from it." When you get advice from the right people, listen to it and heed it. You will not grow over night, but you will get better over time. In addition, Orrin Woodward said, “Mentoring is the process of using invisible keys to unlock the hidden potential in another human being. It is not about a leader reproducing him or herself in another person, but about helping to maximize the best individual that lives inside the other person.”
Remember that the mentoring process will feel very slow at first. Anything worth doing is going to take some time and effort invested on the front end in order to reap the desired results on the back end. Bestselling author John Maxwell said this in his book Contagious Leadership Workbook, “Mentorship is all about a movement, not a program. Programs usually start very big, then eventually lose momentum and become very small. Movements are just the opposite. They usually start very small, and grow very large.”
Put aside your ego so your mentors can help bring out your potential. A candle loses nothing when it lights another; instead it doubles its brightness. This is how mentoring works. Trust me, your mentors will do their part, but you will have to do yours. Pursue people that have the results in the areas you want out of life and render yourself teachable to what made them successful. It won’t be comfortable at first, but press past the discomfort. Be prepared to give up all that you are so you can receive all that you can.
Enjoy the journey!!