Expert Advice

Be a Great Mentor

Patrick McIvor | April 19, 2013 | 9:51 AM
Patrick McIvor

Usually, I get inspired by an idea or question for my blogs and run with it, that’s pretty much how I’ve been working since I started writing in December 1999. This month I decided to try something new, I turned to Facebook and posted a request for suggestions. Overwhelmingly, we have a winner, Mentoring - NewBie’s.

I love this because the answer is the same as “How to train a dog? First you train the owner.” Here are 5 things I look for in a mentor.

Be Interested, Not Interesting

A great mentor is interested, not just interesting and great mentors understand this.  It is the fact that someone is interesting, unique and most often uniquely talented that creates the notoriety that makes them well known enough to be considered a mentor. However, great mentors also understand that there is no need to make themselves seem anymore interesting to their mentee. Great mentors know it’s their interest in the mentee that makes a great mentee, not how interesting they are to the mentee.

Walk The Walk (ETR)

This is probably the single leading reason for the demise of our society’s work ethic, instead of celebrating people who do the right thing and “walk the walk,” we started celebrating Snooky and Paris, people who didn't do the right thing, work hard or pay their dues.  Earn The Right (ETR) to share, because it is actually what you do every day.  People who are great aren't great once in a while or only on their good days, they work hard, fight, over-come and don’t make excuses.  They do all the little things right every day, there is no secret and there is no other way.  Walk The Walk.

Not Worried About Being Right

Great mentors know what they’re good at and don’t need to check to see if they’re right. Great mentors are secure in their technique.  If you think of classic mentor situations, trades (carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, etc) arts (painters, sculptures, photographers) academia and medicine (that’s what universities are for) and even martial arts (different styles and now camps), they all have their way, not necessarily right, but their way.  If you mentored with Picasso, Jackson Pollack or Warhol, would you debate if it was the RIGHT WAY?  If that’s the way the mentor says to sweat the pipes and they NEVER leak or have problems, should anyone worry if it is right?  There are a lot of different right ways, great mentors aren't worried about that.

Know When To Say "No"

A great mentor doesn't need to prove they can do it and they know what they’re best at and when they need to prove it.  I often think of the great martial arts movies where the frail old mast is sitting quietly when a bunch of young punks try to bother or harm him/her. No fighting words, no big show, just what is needed to make their point and leave all the punks wondering how they just ended up being schooled.

Be An Archer

There is a great book called “The Prophet” where a parent is compared to an archer launching and arrow in the right direction and I think the same goes for mentors.  As a parent, you’re happy to be hitting the target and know you’re not going to get a bull’s eye every time.


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