Life can be hard to navigate sometimes. You may have a solid plan that gets derailed by an unexpected turn of events. Your children may not be connecting with their teachers or other leaders and start acting out as a result. It's also possible that you just feel lost or unsure about the next step to take.
A mentor can help by offering guidance and wisdom he or she has learned through experience. Here are some tips on what to look for in a mentor and where to get started.
Active Listening Skills
The first thing you should notice about potential mentors is how enthusiastically they take an interest in what you have to say. They will ask questions about your goals and show empathy for the challenges that you are facing. While they may have strong opinions about the choices you have made, they will recognize the need to understand the big picture before advising you about the next step to take.
Good mentors understand the difference between challenging and pushing. It doesn't matter how successful or wise people are if they are only interested in advancing their own agenda or giving untimely or unsolicited advice. Bad listening is a recipe for disaster when it comes to offering solid guidance. Don't settle for someone who doesn't listen to your interests or understand the specific ways you want to grow.
When you are looking for others to mentor you or your children, you may feel disappointed when the experience isn’t what you want it to be. You may have just landed a job with one of your heroes in your industry only to find that he or she doesn't seem interested in what you have to say. You may enjoy your pastor's sermons but have a hard time arranging an appointment that fits your schedule. Not every person who teaches your children will have the space to give them the one-on-one attention that a true mentorship requires.
As with any other type of relationship, finding a mentor is an exercise in compatibility. If you are having trouble connecting with someone you already know, consider searching for people who are already interested in being a mentor in your area through a trustworthy organization:
You may also be able to find a knowledgeable, reliable mentor just by expanding your social circle. There is likely someone already in your life or closely adjacent to it who is able and willing to step into the role. Join a new small group at church, a committee that pursues one of your interests at work or an alumni network at your university. You may be surprised how much people are willing to share with someone who is eager to learn.
Finally, a good mentor will not keep you to himself or herself but rather introduce you to others who can provide chances for you to grow and learn. For example, an important function of being a professional mentor is teaching you to network in your field. Building camaraderie with other people not only helps you learn new skills but also can open up many new opportunities for your career.
This is also true of spiritual mentors. In fact, a common red flag that spiritual directors or teachers are trying to take unhealthy control of their mentees is isolating them or warning them away from others who might influence their growth. If you have a solid, trusting relationship with your mentors, there is nothing for them to fear about you hearing the perspectives of and forging healthy relationships with others.
Finding a mentor isn't always easy. When you make a connection with someone who can help you grow, however, you will probably find that the relationship is worth all the effort you put into it.