“Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mentorship is a crucial activity for both our professional and personal development! The more frequently we can contribute to the quality of other people’s lives, the more fulfilling our jobs and lives become! It is for this reason that I’ve composed 10 key characteristics that make for a strong, long-lasting, and resilient mentor/mentee relationship. Whether you are a mentor or somebody looking for a mentor, these 10 characteristics are crucial to every mentor/mentee relationship. The power of Relationships is REAL and every strong mentor/mentee relationship entails one or more of the below key points!
- Selflessness / In It For The Long Haul: 6 months out of college, I was on my second job at a small Firm in Rancho Cucamonga. In the short time span of 6 months, I was fortunate to forge a strong, deeply impactful relationship with J’on Dennis, a kind, compassionate, empathetic and humorous individual. As our relationship transcended Rancho Cucamonga, I would go on to work with him at 2 more Firms together and to this day (7 years later), I consider him to be one of my strongest, most influential mentors. J’on not only opened up his household and family to me, but he selflessly shared past mistakes, setbacks and “failures” which all contributed to the father, business owner, and dope soul he is today. This relationship taught me that a true mentor will stick with you beyond your 9 to 5, through any and all endeavors you decide to pursue in this lifetime!
- 1 on 1 Meetings: I recently read an article suggesting that regularly scheduled 1 on 1 meetings are the key to great relationships. Mentors or leaders cannot make someone highly-engaged, but they can create the conditions for high engagement, in which people choose to bring their best. When a busy mentor says they don’t have time to hold regular check-ins, they’re really saying they don’t have time to be an effective mentor. Holding regular 1 on 1s is a significant investment in time, but it pays off greatly! During these meetings, an effective mentor/leader makes the meeting about YOU, schedules the meeting at a time during the day when both are alert and energized (not end of day), and puts their phone away in an effort to give you their undivided attention!
- Networking Skills: While exploring new opportunities a couple of years ago, I was introduced to Chelsey Miles, a former Partner at MGO. Chelsey took me under her wing immediately and invited me to numerous networking events, dinner meetings, and potential client opportunities. Her willingness to “vouch” for me and show me the ropes of the cannabis space allowed me to grow exponentially faster than I would have without her support. She taught me that a GREAT mentor believes in you and your ability to succeed, even when you might not believe in yourself! Furthermore, a great mentor will introduce you to new people and help foster new connections and lucrative business and proposal opportunities in an effort to enhance your growth and marketability. As Ben Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
- Off The Clock Support: One night couple years ago, I was filled with anxiety, stress and overwhelm as I was torn between staying with RSM and taking a job at a startup. I called my mentor at midnight and to my surprise (and delight), she answered and subsequently provided me some sound advice. Her dedication to our relationship taught me that a great mentor is there for you outside of normal business hours! A superb mentor has “skin in the game” and takes interest in your well-being from both a professional and personal standpoint. Oprah Winfrey was once quoted saying, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”
- Honest and Truthful: Jeffrey Altshuler, Partner at RSM has been a mentor to me since coming on board roughly 5 years ago. The thing I love about Jeff is he is as honest as he is kind. A strong mentor isn’t afraid to tell you how it is. They don’t beat around the bush. They tell you what you need to hear, not what you simply want to hear. Similarly, your mentor sets the tone at the top by creating the space for you to comfortably share anything and everything on your mind. Promoting an open door policy is crucial to the enhancement of the relationship. Most importantly, your mentor allows you to make all final decisions, no matter the situation As Diana Ross once said, “You know, you do need mentors, but in the end, you really just need to believe in yourself.”
- Love From Afar: Your mentor lets you fail so that you can learn key life lessons and come back stronger, smarter and more intelligent than ever. Jeff (previously mentioned) lovingly allowed me to pursue opportunities outside of RSM and subsequently welcomed me back with open arms. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Success is a horrible teacher. Failure is a Master Guru. Failure gives us data and equips us with the tools necessary to pivot and head in the right direction. As Steve Maraboli so eloquently once said, “My mistakes have been my greatest mentors.”
- Open and Vulnerable: Your mentor is open and vulnerable with you. He or she shares past mistakes and failures with you in an effort to shed light on what to do and what to avoid. I make it a point to connect with my mentees by sharing adversity (failed jobs, failed endeavors, failed relationships) I’ve faced in an effort to provide them with opportunities for growth, wisdom, and development. The more I can relate to my mentees and share real life experiences with them, the more empathy I can cultivate and the stronger the relationship becomes! Whoopi Goldberg was once quoted saying “We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”
- They Make Time – We are all busy, but we are also all given the exact same 24 hours per day. Mentors willingly and consciously block out time in their busy schedule to ensure you are taken care of from both a personal and a professional standpoint! As John Crosby once said, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”
- They’ve Got Your Back! Your mentor should always have your back. Whether it is scheduling a week of PTO or exploring new and exciting opportunities, he/she should always have your best interest in mind. As the great Jim Rohn once said, “My mentor said, ‘Let’s go do it,’ not ‘You go do it.’ How powerful when someone says, ‘Let’s!’”
- Candid Conversations: The dictionary defines candor as “the state or quality of being frank, open, and sincere in speech or expression, free from reservation, or disguise; straightforward.” Being candid means speaking plainly and not holding back what needs to be said. An effective mentor pushes you outside of your comfort zone and creates the space necessary to hold candid conversations.
Enjoy what comes of today!