A few months ago we wrote about the importance of a mentor in a man’s life. Figuring out what it means to be a man can be tough. And it’s arguably tougher for men today, who are often more socially isolated, don’t have as many friends, and don’t have strong relationships with their fathers and other male relatives. It’s therefore more important than ever for every man to seek out mentors to help him navigate the complicated waters of manliness and life.
Mentors have the experience and wisdom to give us sound guidance, direction, and advice. Mentors can also help us expand our point of view on a particular area of our life. Moreover, a mentor can become a good friend and confidant during times when we struggle and falter.
So having a mentor is quite important. The tricky part is, how do you find one? Here’s a suggested road map.
How to Find a Mentor
1. Determine what sort of mentor you’re looking for. We all have different facets of our lives. Work, school, spirituality, family, etc. Ask yourself what area of your life needs improvement and could benefit from a mentor. And it doesn’t have to be a specific area of your life like career or church. Perhaps you’re just looking for a mentor to help you be an all around better man. That’s fine.
2. Draw up a list of three men that you’d like to mentor you. Think of all the men you know that might be able to help you in the area that you’re looking for some mentoring in. Guys that you’ve always looked up to or admired and wish you had a better relationship with. If you’re looking for a mentor to help you in your career, look around at the men you know at work that have been in the game awhile and know the ropes. If you’re a student, you might want to pick a professor that really inspires you academically. If you’re looking for a mentor to help you be an overall better man, simply think of the men you know and admire. While we often think of a mentor as being older than us, a mentor can be a guy the same age as you, who just has his life together a bit more or who lives his life in a way you really admire. Also, don’t stick with men that are exactly like you. One of the benefits of a mentor is that they can help expand your point of view.
3. Write down how each mentor could help you grow as a man. Think of the traits each man has that you wish to learn. Do some research on them. Do they come from a similar background as you? Do they have unique experiences that can broaden your conception and understanding of success in a particular area of your life? Have they had any setbacks similar to yours? What is it exactly about this person that makes you want him to be your mentor? This will come in handy when you finally get around to asking.
4. Figure out what you expect from the mentor relationship. Before you ask someone to be your mentor, you need to know what he should expect from the relationship. How often would you like to meet with him? Once a week? Once a month? How do you want the mentoring to take place? A discussion over lunch? Email? A monthly phone call? When you’re deciding this, take into account the men you’re asking to be your mentor and what will work for them. If you know one man is particularly busy, you wouldn’t want to ask that he meet with you once a week.
5. Ask the first man on your list. After you’ve done all your prep work, it’s time to ask. Whether you call, email, or a write a letter to do the asking will depend on each person. Some older men might be “old school” and prefer a phone call or letter over email. If they’re younger and a bit tech savvy, email is just fine.
Tell your prospective mentor that you’re looking for a mentor in “x” area of your life and that you think he’d be a good one. Explain why you think he’d be a good mentor by sharing some of the positive traits about him that you wrote down. People love to be praised!
If you get some positive feedback from your prospective mentor about the relationship, go on and start discussing logistics. Explain what you’re hoping to get out of the mentorship and get an idea of what he’d like to get out of it as well. Synchronize schedules and how you two plan to carry out the mentorship. The more clear you are at the beginning, the less likely for awkward moments down the line.
If asking someone so directly to be your mentor makes you feel awkward (or you think it might make them feel uncomfortable) then just ask the man to have lunch or hang out some time. Start dropping by the professor’s office or your co-worker’s cubicle for chats. And the relationship will hopefully develop naturally from there.
6. Expect rejection. Don’t’ get discouraged and don’t take it personally if people say no. People are busy these days, and they just might not have time to be a mentor. If the first man says no, go on to the second.
7. Say “thank you.” No matter if you get a no or a yes, be sure to thank the person.
Now, it might not be possible to find a mentor in just one day, but let’s at least get started on it.
Here’s your 30 Days to a Better Man-Day 3 task in a nutshell:
- Pick an area in your where you think a mentor can help you and draw up a list of three potential mentors.
- Describe why you think they’d be good.
- By the end of the 24 hours, contact this mentor. Send an email or letter, call them, or drop by their office. You don’t actually have to visit with them during this day, but make contact with them in some form.
This is our most difficult task so far, as for many of you, it will involve going outside of your comfort zone. But remember your commitment! You can’t stay in your comfort zone and grow and become a better man.
Listen to our podcast on the power of mentoring: