My Mentor Walk Experience

Saturday morning I got into my car and turned on the radio.  The “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits was playing.  I thought, “How appropriate.  I’m heading off to the Women’s Vision Mentoring Walk in Denver’s City Park.”  I had a great time.  I volunteered as a mentor.  I had a chance to share my life and career success advice with the two women with whom I had been paired as we strolled around what, in my opinion, is the most beautiful of Denver’s parks.

Following the walk, all mentors and mentees were treated to a great breakfast – fruit, bagels and burritos – and a talk by a Denver motivational speaker, Lori Bachman.

Lori made some great points about mentoring.  The most important of which is that mentoring is an active process that should be done not in a conference room but during real work.  She suggested that there is a four step process to being a good mentor….

  1. The mentor performs a task until he or she is proficient.
  2. The mentor shows the mentee how to perform the task.
  3. The mentee performs the task while the mentor watches and gives feedback.
  4. The mentee performs the task on his or her own.

I like these four steps.  They follow the basic principles of adult action learning and are much better than just talking about how to do something.  Modeling and feedback always develop career success skills faster than does conversation.

I ended up volunteering as a mentor because of Danielle Perrin of Duo Marketing and PR here in Denver.  Danielle was volunteering her time as a PR rep for the Mentor Walk and asked if I would be willing to blog about it.  I did, and I signed on as a mentor.

Self confidence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in many of my career advice books including Success Tweets.  One way to build your self confidence it to surround yourself with positive people.  In my book, mentors are positive people by definition.

The term “mentor” comes from The Odyssey.  Odysseus entrusted the care of his son, Telemachus, to Mentor when he set out to fight the Trojan War.  The best mentors will help you learn and grow by sharing their knowledge and wisdom with you.  In this way, you can benefit from their experience without having to suffer the consequences of gaining that experience firsthand.

As I’ve said, mentors are positive people by definition.  It takes a positive person to give of himself or herself to help another learn, grow and create the life and career success they want and deserve.

I have been fortunate to have had several mentors in my life and career.  All of them shared several characteristics.  They all…

  • Were willing to share their wisdom, knowledge, skills and expertise.
  • Had a positive outlook on life.  They helped me through tough times and showed me how to find the opportunity in the difficulties I was facing.
  • Were genuinely concerned about me and my success.  In addition to being knowledgeable, they were empathic.
  • Really knew what they were doing.  I respected them for their knowledge and skills.
  • Kept growing themselves.  All of my mentors were curious and inquisitive.  Sometimes the roles were reversed.  They asked what I was reading, and then read the books themselves – so they could learn and we could discuss the ideas.
  • Gave me direct, constructive feedback.  They held me to high standards.  They congratulated me when I met their expectations.  They corrected me when I failed to do so – but in a manner where I learned what not to do the next time.
  • Were respected by their colleagues.  People who are highly regarded in their field or company make the best mentors.
  • Sought out and valued the opinions of others.  My best mentor always told me to listen most carefully to the people with whom I disagreed – in that way I might learn something.  And, he was right.

As the old saying goes, a mentor is someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.

Do you want to find a mentor?  Just look around you.  Who are the people you admire and want to emulate?  Watch what they do, and do the same.  I’ve had several mentors who never even realized they were mentoring me.

I learned how to build a network of solid contacts by watching Maggie Watson.  I learned the rules of business etiquette and dressing for success by watching Bill Rankin.  I learned how to become a first-rate public speaker by watching Steve Roesler.  I learned how to become a trusted advisor by watching Don Nelson.  I learned how to carry myself with dignity in even the most difficult situations by watching JF and Carol Kiernan.  I learned how to become a better conversationalist by watching Cathy, my wife.

The reverse is also true.  I’ve learned plenty about what not to do to build self-esteem, give performance feedback and treat people with respect and dignity from observing a few of my managers over the years.

I’ve found that if you want to have an acknowledged mentoring relationship, all you have to do is ask.  Go to the people you admire and tell them that you admire their judgment and would like to learn from them to build your career success.  Ask if you can impose on their time to get answers to questions you have.  I have never had anyone turn me down when I’ve asked this way.

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.   Self confidence is an important key to life and career success.  Surrounding yourself with positive people is one way to build to your self confidence.  Mentors are positive people who can not only help you build your self confidence, they will help you create the career success you deserve.  Follow the career advice in Tweet 51 in Success Tweets.  “Find a mentor.  Mentors are positive people who will help you find the lessons in your experiences and use them to move forward.”  You can enter into a formal mentoring relationship.  Or you can just observe people you admire.  They can mentor you without even realizing that they are doing so.  And, it’s never too early to become a mentor yourself.  There is always someone who needs your career advice; someone who needs to know what you’ve already learned.  Be a positive person.  Help others achieve the life and career success they want and deserve.  I had a chance to watch this in action on Saturday.  I saw about 50 mentors helping 150 women interested in creating their career success at the Women’s Vision Mentor Walk.  I was really happy to participate in such an uplifting and energetic event.  I plan on continuing the mentoring relationships I developed Saturday.  Do you have a mentor?  If not, what are you waiting for?  Find one and you’ll be on an accelerated path to career success.

That’s the career advice I took from my participation in the Women’s Vision Mentor Walk of Saturday.  What do you think?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  Do you have a mentor?  If so, please tell us about the relationship and how it has helped you toward you career success goals.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.

Bud

PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

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