Coach, confidant, advisor, councilor, sounding board, supporter, guide…………
1. Regarding your work, do you have someone who knows your work and will give you honest feedback?
2. Would you like to have someone who you could run an idea past before you actually try it?
3. Do you know someone who knows you and understands what your strengths and weaknesses are?
4. Do you know someone who can ask you questions that will lead you to the best answer?
5. Do you know someone who challenges your thoughts and takes you beyond where you’ve been to date?
6. Do you have someone who you feel has your best interest in mind without imposing their ideas on you?
7. Do you know someone who will keep your discussions confidential?
MY MENTOR EXPERIENCE
Throughout the early part of my life, through high school, technical school, grad school and work experience, I always had a mentor. These were teachers, friends or professors. These mentors were a huge part of my journey as a successful student and team member. During these formative years I made great strides in my training and skills. My success lent me confidence to begin my own practice in architecture.
During the first 2 years running my own practice, the firm prospered and grew to 12 team members. This immediate success masked my lack of business know-how. At this point, I got by on youthful energy. I solved my problems with hard work and long hours. I never thought about engaging a mentor, I thought I didn’t need one anymore. I had become successful, all on my own abilities.
After 3 years in business, we experienced a recession. As you know, design and construction are the first to slow down and slow down they did. In one week alone, my 3 largest projects were cancelled. I had no work for my team, but did fortunately have a reserve fund, and managed to keep them employed - until the reserve fund was gone. Then, one-by-one I laid off my staff until there was only myself left. I went to my landlord to tell him I had to leave as I couldn’t afford the rent. He chose to waive the rent for 2 years to help me get back on my feet. He said “in this recession, I couldn’t rent the space anyway.”
A quote I’d heard hit me hard at this moment:
“anyone can be successful in a thriving economy, only a good businessman can survive a recession.”
I had plenty of time to begin developing my business skill. After all, I was determinednot to be a business failure statistic. I continued to do whatever I could to stay solvent. Many times during this period of recovery I was insolvent. But, each time I was about to quit something came along to help me stay in business.
There was still something missing: I never considered engaging a mentor/coach to help me in with my business. So alone for the next 10 years I learned by trial and error. I managed to stay solvent, but never had any sustainable success. No matter how hard I worked and how many hours all by business could manage was to survive. I realized that I didn’t have the business experience to become successful. The choice was either to quit or learn to run a business. I decided to find a mentor who could coach me on how acquire the business skill I lacked.
I looked around to find a mentor/coach who could help me eventually choosing an on-line program, which taught me the essentials of practicing business. The lessons were applied directly to my own practice, through the advice of a business coach and mentor who specialized in small business practice. As the program progressed, I began to see its value, the nexus of this success was my mentor/coach.
In a way, I had come full circle. As in my early education and training years I always had a mentor to help me with my career and keep me going in the right direction. And it worked! I learned that no matter how accomplished you are there is always someone who can elevate your business, someone who understands you. Finding a mentor is the difference between long term success or failure.
MENTOR TRAITS & RELATIONSHIP
Mentor relationship: between one with life or business experience (mentor) and someone wanting help in travelling life’s path (mentee).
Carefully crafted questions by a mentor can lead the mentee to an awakening
A mentor can rephrase mentees questions, leading them to find the answers themselves rather that just be given the correct answer. When the mentee discovers the answer to the question, it has a greater impact than when the answer is given.
Dealing with their mentee’s real-life situations or circumstances can be a more powerful learning method, with more hands-on circumstances than classroom learning alone. As a mentee your interest is a much higher level when the topic is your own affairs.
The mentor must ensure confidentiality, creating an environment where the mentee feels safe and free to discuss their most personal thoughts and their craziest ideas.
By introducing fun into the relationship, the mentor creates a positive open environment.
Ask the mentee to share thoughts about previous meetings – discussions will sometime trigger additional questions or enlightenments between meetings with the mentor.
When mentors share their own past follies, mistakes and failures, they expose their humanity and will break the ice with the mentee, who will then more readily share personal issues and thoughts.
When the mentee/mentor relationship is right the potential is endless.