“The Best We Can Be” — Up Your Ante with a Mentor

“The Best We Can Be” — Up Your Ante with a Mentor

We understand that in sports there is a great coach behind every great player, and we celebrate these folks, but in work we somehow forget their importance. We leave behind what we learned in school athletics and approach our professional lives without giving much thought to coaching (or mentoring) or where to look to continue to build our skills and abilities and be the best we can be.

— Maynard Webb, Forbes

“The best we can be.” Isn’t that the goal?

Think back to someone who really impacted your life in a positive way. Maybe a parent, or a middle school teacher, or a trusted older friend with good listening skills you sought out at a confusing time of your life. Think about how you felt when good advice was given, grievances were aired, or you felt you learned something incredibly valuable.

In every case, a mentor brings something to the table that the mentee is lacking: experience.

To find the right mentor for you, have an honest conversation with yourself about your weaknesses. (If it makes you feel better, list your strengths first — lead with the positive!) Could you use some help with public speaking or giving presentations? Does your team feel adrift with you at the helm? Are you seriously talented at sales but pretty hopeless at marketing? What do you need to become the best you can be?

Once you’ve sorted that out, you’ll want to approach someone in the field who has the time, energy, and inclination to give back. Think about it: a mentor has already arrived at the place you’re dreaming of going and has the potential to take you on a journey you never could have imagined. He or she can give you encouragement or kickstart you in a direction and then continue to inspire you as you move forward.

And a good mentor is not a short-term thing: he or she is someone who will remain in a position of trust for the rest of your life. Who knows, you may even get a job offer or a valuable networking opportunity down the road as a result of that connection.

Don’t forget that in order to maintain the quality of a mentor relationship, you need to give back. A good (and smart) mentee is always ready for any task assigned by the mentor, no matter how seemingly trivial at the time. Or you can simply ask how you can offer value in return for their time and effort, as well as show your appreciation in more tangible ways. A thank-you card or email never goes amiss.

If finding a mentor the traditional way doesn’t pan out, you can always contract with someone for business coaching. You’re probably used to paying an expert for their knowledge, whether it’s home maintenance, car repair, or legal advice; this time, it’s simply making an investment in yourself and your future.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

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Paid Mentoring and Business Coaching

If you are having trouble finding a mentor or if you have found a good mentor that does not have the ability to give away their time for free, then it may be a good idea to consider investing in paid mentoring.

Many people still look at mentoring in a very traditional way and imagine a promising young new hire being mentored by a seasoned executive. However, as we saw when talking about reverse mentoring, modern mentoring can exist in a variety of ways. Some people may seem hesitant about paying for mentoring but is it really so odd? Think about it this way, if you know someone who is an expert with Quick Books and you want to have them come teach you how to use it, you wouldn’t think twice about paying them for their time would you?  Is mentoring necessarily so different?

These kinds of transactions are really a form of mentoring in and of themselves. As useful as these transactions are, some people provide this kind of assistance to people in much the same way as a mentor would but do it professionally as what is known as a business coach.

A business coach is someone that can help you develop yourself and in turn, your business. They will hold you accountable and as someone who does this professionally, you can hold them accountable as well. This sort of relationship can also help ease the initial tension or intimidation that may exist in a traditional mentor-mentee relationship, where the mentee may be too timid to ask questions because of the mentor’s position or because they are helping the mentee for free and may find it difficult to ask for more from them.

Just as we have discussed the numerous benefits that mentors can provide in our previous posts, you know that they may be well worth the monetary investment. Even if that great potential mentor that you know is not a business coach and is someone who might be difficult to arrange a paid-mentoring arrangement with, consider buying them lunch to see if you can develop a relationship with them that way. You may very well find that in the long run, these can be some of the best investments you have ever made for yourself or your business.

A mentor-mentee relationship does not have to meet any particular parameters and is always mutually beneficial. Mentoring is really just about investing in yourself and each other to grow personally and professionally, no matter how they come about.

This concludes our series on mentoring as part of January as Mentoring Month, and we hope you have enjoyed it and are either looking for that great mentor, have one that you show your continued appreciation for, are ready to make the jump to star mentoring someone else, or are working to improve yourself as a longtime mentor, with the help of these posts.

If you need legal help with your business matters, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, PC, home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.