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A Steve Jobs is Made for Every Mark Zuckerberg

5 things to look out for in your ideal mentor

Have you ever wondered why most – if not all – award acceptance speeches have a long list of people to acknowledge? Be it an award for performing art like acting or dancing, or recognition to a sports person for his achievement, the receivers have someone to share his accomplishment with.

If we think about it, the achievement is the end product of hard work and perseverance, one puts into attaining success. So, why the need to acknowledge other people?

It is because they understand that success is not a one-man show. The greatest minds of all times have always been sculped under the influence of a genius, who is more than just a mentor. Regardless of how competitive you may feel-especially early in your career-in reality, success is a team sport.

Take it from these celebrated personalities who credit much of their success to their mentors. Ace cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has forever been grateful to Ramakant Achrekar and has spoken highly about his role in making him what he is. Oprah Winfrey remembers Maya Angelou as a mentor, mother/sister and friend, who taught her how to be grounded. 

Steve Jobs had Bill Campbell as a mentor; Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs; Bill Gates had Warren Buffett. It is convincingly put that you are never too successful to need a mentor.

However, not everyone can be a great mentor. Mentoring is more than just advice or transfer of knowledge and ideas. How do you find your Godfather?

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg.

Here are 5 things You Should Look for in a Mentor:

1. Enthusiasm for sharing expertise- 

When you lookout for a mentor, you should focus on one very important aspect of the prospective mentor’s personality. He/she should be more than enthusiastic—almost on the verge of being over enthusiastic-about sharing the knowledge and expertise they have gained over a period of time. It may sound obvious, but a mentor should, relevant background and experience.

Their sincerity should be felt in the way they express their willingness to help and guide you. A striking mentor should be inclined towards helping others. They do not wish to receive rewards materialistically but in the form of growth, his mentee shows.

2. Value Learning

Worthy mentors are constant learners. They must be willing to transfer that desire for life-long learning on to the mentees. They should admit to the fact that they cannot possibly know everything, in the ever-evolving world.

An admirable trait in a mentor is his curiosity to find out things that he doesn’t know. A mentor who keeps enriching his knowledge with research and application is a gem worth keeping.

A good mentor will be open to the possibility that a mentee, too may have relevant knowledge that he may lack. He must be accepting of the ideas and knowledge coming from an amateur mentee. A mentor who is willing to learn from a mentee is worthy of respect.

3. Encourage you to step out of your comfort zone

Everyone has their own comfort zone in which they operate and live. They are champions in this zone. They can excel in this zone even with the average performance. However, to grow and succeed, you need to step outside this zone. Stepping out gives you new experiences and learning that inspires and challenges you to do better.

A good mentor must be able to identify your comfort zone and device strategy, through activities, to force you out of this comfort zone. Gradually your discomfort zone will become your new comfort zone. Encouraging you to step out of the comfort zone will be a continuing duty of an ideal mentor.

4. Ability to Give Honest and Direct Feedback

Feedback is important to improve and grow. Everyone benefits from feedback. Even an expert needs it to up his game. An empathetic mentor is soothing but an ideal godfather will also give you some bitter pills when you need it. A good mentor knows how to give honest feedback which is kind and constructive. They present it in a manner that it does not discourage the mentee to experiment and try out new things. Productive criticism will help the mentee make a better decision.

5. Willingness to Be a Sponsor

We may distinguish a great mentor from a good mentor by his willingness to travel an extra mile for his mentee.  The difference between a mentor and a sponsor is the intent. While a mentor is someone who can guide you with knowledgeable advice and support, a sponsor is a godfather who goes a step further to patronise his mentee by promoting him openly.   Such a mentor is not just a patron but also a life-long friend who will guide you at every step in life.

Finding a suitable mentor requires conscious efforts. However, you must not try too hard to get a perfect match. Just find the one that fits you and it may help you become the best version of yourself. You will get a patron and a life-long friend in a good mentor. 

And remember, mentorship doesn’t mean you become a living clone of your mentor. Depend on them for guidance and motivation, but do not lose your distinct flavour.

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