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SFTW is a weekly email I send to my team, recapping top of mind thoughts and curating some useful and fun links from across the web. 

“Everyone is better than you are. At something.” – Seth Godin

Quite often when you get a review or some feedback from your manager, you might hear them talk about ‘getting a mentor’.  I’ve had that feedback over the years, and it took me a while to understand the full value that you can get from a mentor, even when you are doing really well in your career.

Here are some of my top tips to getting the most out of a mentor, and hopefully inspire you to think about building a mentoring relationship.

  • Mentors provide information and knowledge – if we align ourselves with someone who has been successful, we have the ability to shorten our learning curve.  This is especially useful when you are trying to ‘jump the rails’ and learn new skills, finding a great mentor can help you get up to speed quickly.
  • Mentors can see where we need to improve where often we cannot – having a third party to help you recognise opportunities to improve can be really powerful.  You wouldn’t learn to drive on your own, having an instructor helps you – yet when we move into the world of work we take on all the learning ourselves.  Getting a second opinion is a powerful move.
  • Mentors have ways to stimulate our professional and personal growth – new ideas, new ways of working and new opinions can help accelerate our journey and focus our attention on the right steps to take.
  • Mentors are sounding boards – I use my mentor to help me develop ideas and concepts that need move development, I might not want to use my managers to do that because I want to move the idea along before it gets ‘out on the wild’.
  • Mentors can be connectors – using a professional or personal mentor to connect you to others in their network is a great way of getting visibility, or driving & expanding your network.

So, how do you get yourself a mentor?

The simplest step is to ask – work with your manager, or even the mentor you’d like to work with.  But before you do that, it’s worth exploring exactly what you want to achieve, what are the steps that you want to take that you feel you’d need some outside influence to help with.  Look at the hints about, where do you want to focus?

Once you’ve decided, then look for the role models that you want to work with.  Your approach should be filled with definitive things to get help with, and an understanding that there is a commitment from both sides.

My mentor experience is that I have a personal mentor, who helps me as a sounding board and gives me ideas to stimulate growth.  They are senior to me, but not in the same organisation or even the same line of business, so I can use them to grow my network and stimulate new ideas.

I’ve also been a mentor to a number of people, and I think my role is 90% listening, and 10% trying to crystallise and develop ideas.

Next time your manager talks about getting a mentor, work through some of these ideas. If you need help to get laser focused, let me know – I’ll be glad to help.

Somethings from the Web

That change management job I mentioned earlier, here’s how they are managing the digital aspects.  Here’s a list of books that might keep you company over the next four years.

I very rarely post music on SFTW – but this is superb, my new favourite jam, also I was sad to hear about the death of William Onyeabor this week – he was the African Kraftwerk. Really. This obituary explains it all. Sad News.

Be a rebel, six pieces of advice from Einstein. And finally, here’s what happens if you try and meet one new person every day.