Before you ask them to Mentor you

Friday, October 16, 2015

Would you ask an olympic swimmer for advice on playing tennis? I bet you would not. Would you ask a concert harpist for advice on improving your piano playing skills? I guess you would not. 
Interestingly enough, we do such things in other areas of life. Everyone is an expert in the digital age. We are lured by filters, flawless images and artificial results. Today I propose that we inspect fruit before we make the decision to follow someone's advice. 

Olympic swimmers are great at swimming. They can give you all types of advice in that area because they did the training and proved themselves to be so good they went to the olympics. A concert harpist put in countless hours in practicing their skill set so that they can be the best. They most likely have insights no one else has. That's what I call "displaying fruit." 

Think about the person you want to approach to mentor you. They too are displaying some type of fruit. Here are a few things you may want to consider before asking them to mentor you:

What characteristics do I want to emulate? - your ideal mentor is consistently displaying distinctive character patterns that you yet do not possess. I'm challenging you to think beyond their apparent success, look at the mundane pattern of habits that got them there. Fight the urge to wish for a formula to success and become a student of the essential skill sets you will need in order to succeed in your field of choice. 

I'm challenging you to think proximity. In most cases, you will have to be watching someone in real life. Only in real life can you be close enough to watch someone in and out of the spot light. Only in proximity, you can have real vision to make an informed decision of which characteristics you want to emulate from your mentor. Again, fight the urge to ask for a formula to success and ask for the wisdom of years. 

This wisdom of years will be able to give you insight on your own life's journey. Your mentor will know that you are already on your own character strengthening journey and they will be able to give you steps for improvement. The wisdom of years will also give you precious advice that comes from trial and error you will avoid because of the hard earned lessons from that wise mentor. Consider also the following question:

Am I humble enough to accept all advice? - your ideal mentor will give you all types of advice and it is wise to ask yourself if you are humble enough to receive it. The wisdom of years sees flaws that can be easily corrected through humbleness. My friend, you will have to be humble enough to hear the truth about yourself. You may not like it but if you are smart, you will acknowledge and correct the behavior. Being mentored in real life is not about being tickled in the belly like a little puppy and going along your merry way. It's about accepting your blind spots and receiving help from the wiser person. This is really called character growth. It's not convenient and happy go lucky but it's rough, convicting, yet beneficial. 

Friend, I am not sure if you have approached someone about mentoring you. Before you do (or as you do), remember to ask yourself these two questions:

• What characteristics do I want to emulate?
• Am I humble enough to accept all advice?

I believe when you honestly answer these questions, you will have a more productive mentor-mentee relationship. 

I'd love to keep this conversation going. Please let me know if you have any questions on the subject. I've thought about it from different angles and I'd love to continue to share my thought process on the subject. One aspect I am yet to write about is the fact that mentees get to graduate, so we shouldn't park in a mentor-mentee relationship forever.

Have a happy day wherever you are. Pray for a mentor and I know God will help you in the area you need the most growth right now.