There has been an increase in the awareness of the place of mentor in success pursuit. The talk about mentoring is so rife that it seems out of vogue not to participate in the rush for mentoring. Before you decide to join the race for asking someone to mentor you, here are few tips I put together to give insight into the concept.

Who is a mentor?

Your answer to this question will determine a lot of things and ultimately the success of the process. A mentor is not a rival, competitor or tormentor but a coach, leader and guide. A mentor is not an Automated Teller machine (ATM) nor a bin for dumping your garbage but he willingly picks those roles. A mentor holds you by the hand to show you the principle of growth and success in an area of life. It could be in leadership, finances, career or any area of your choosing.

Who should do the asking?

The common practice has always been people approaching a more knowledgeable or advanced person for mentoring. Notice I didn’t use older person because we now have peer mentoring or even having a younger person mentoring adults. Whichever way it comes, you could either do the asking or allow it evolve naturally. In rare cases, a mentor can chose the mentee out of interest.  With structured trainings, you can now have a mentor assigned to you through development interventions. When it happens, remember the 5 mentee lessons I wrote about in another article.

What is involved in a mentoring relationship?

Basically, mentoring is about knowledge sharing that is practically oriented. It is about coaching, apprenticeship and walking the rope with someone holding your hand to lead you through the dark alleys of life. It could be a messy process where you don’t have accolades but rebuke, correction and constant challenge to improve on yourself. You may not have so much adulation and accolades poured on you but you would have brushings to bring out the very best ultimately. If you love to be celebrated, mentoring relationship is not a place to find it. Move forward.

Should you solicit for money?

Many people make the mistake of solicitation in a mentoring relationship. Avoid it at all cost, if you can. Never see your mentor as an ATM. I have a personal policy of giving you money and stopping the mentoring process when the request comes too early. In some cases, I refused to give the money but made the person understand the reason. As an undergraduate, I had a mentor who publicly spoke about me. A day came I needed a token and voiced out to a friend, she suggested I approach my mentor. I declined by saying, “you don’t ask for a cup of garri from someone that could give you a bag of rice.” On my wedding day, the same man gave me a good sum of money without me asking.

What are the rules?

I have suggested some dos and don’ts in my article about the 5 critical lessons I have learnt. Rules differ from person to person but the 5 lessons should be helpful to establish you. Some structured programs have guidelines. Don’t break them.

What are your expectations?

Arm yourself with expectations before venturing into a mentoring process. It is better you give your mentor a close marking but don’t be a nuisance to him/her. When you don’t keep in touch, you might not be given the attention you need. Mentors are busy people. Write down your expectations and let you mentor know how you can achieve it.

What are the limits?

Certainly there are limits in a mentoring relationship. Respect the mentor’s privacy. Do well to ask if there are no go areas for you. Also use wisdom to set your boundaries, let your mentor know things you do not entertain. Except they are morally or ethically wrong, be willing to drop certain habits you hold dear that may not be helpful to you. The ultimate goal of mentoring is positive change.