How To Find A Mentor (And It’s Not What You Think) by Sonia Dube
I know, it’s been forever since I shared here. I’ve enjoyed the powerful stories that every day people have willingly shared on this platform lately, and taking in lessons from their amazing experiences. And honestly, life has just been crazy busy that getting down to writing has been difficult.
Today though, I wanted to share something that’s been on my mind for a while.
Last year some time I shared a post on 5 reasons every young woman needs a female mentor. And it was a post that resonated with a number of young women.
I received a number of follow up questions after that: What makes a good mentor? How do you find a mentor? How do you ask someone to mentor you?
And so I figured I would respond to the question of how to find a mentor because that is something I think many of us have misunderstood.
“More often than not, your greatest mentors don’t look like what you expect.” – Sonia Dee
I personally have like 8 mentors (probably more) in my life. Some are men, others are women. Most are older than me, some are younger than I am. Some are married, others are single. Some have become good friends and others don’t even know I exist – YET (cause I intend on growing to a place where we move in the same circles :)).
Seems like a bit of a hodge-podge of influences right?
Not that much. And I’ll expand on it below. If you’re at a place in your life where you would like some counsel or guidance in any area of your life (handling money, getting ahead in your career, growing in your spiritual walk, doing relationships right etc) then here are a few pointers on how you can “find” your mentor:
- Quit Searching For A Mentor
Photo Cred: Marguerite Oelofse Instagram
The very first thing you need to do is to let go of this idea that you NEED to find a mentor. That somehow you’re not really doing life because you don’t have someone whom you’ve asked to mentor you.
Mentorship is a very organic process and not a treasure hunt that one must go on. In fact, more often than not, your mentor finds you. Relieve yourself of the pressure of needing to single out and declare someone your mentor.
- Start Focusing On Who You Want To Be
Now, I don’t mean that you need to somehow know beyond a shadow of a doubt what exactly you need to be doing with your life. Rather, I mean more in terms of your curiosity.
Make sure you’ve spent some time alone reflecting on the things in life that baffle you and that you desire guidance on. Even Christ, before He healed people, would often ask them what they wanted from Him. He never assumed or forced unsolicited solutions on people and neither will a good mentor.
You will most probably not connect with someone to mentor you if you have no legit questions to ask. Essentially, a mentor is there to help you navigate a terrain of your life that they most probably have already walked. Unless you begin to think about which terrain you want to explore, you’ll find it difficult to identify the appropriate tour guide (mentor). In fact, you may find that the mentors are right there in your life but you just have not taken the time to think about what you want out of your own life so you can’t even identify/learn from them.
I connected with my mentors when I began to search for clarity around certain issues in my life. For instance, I found Sarah Jakes Roberts (that’s right – she’s one of the ones who don’t know of my existence yet) when I began to grapple with questions around my identity and how to live out the purpose God deposited in my soul. And I connected with phenomenal people like Taffy, Sazi, Zan, Chelly and others in moments where I began wanting to understand the realities of career, marriage and family life, amongst other things.
So get curious gurl.
- Get Humble
A mentorship relationship works well when you’re willing to be directed and led by someone. And this is a hard one for us millennials.
We’ve been raised to believe in our awesomeness and we have access to much more information than generations before us, and so we think we know better and don’t really need to learn from anyone. We also truly believe that people older than us just don’t get it. Little do we realize how much we’re killing our selves with that attitude (this is a personal struggle of mine). This is a whole other post in itself but I guess it also points to our independent and determined spirit at the same time.
I recently listened to a podcast by Myleik Teele (another mentor of mine with whom I shall connect physically in the near future) and she emphasized the need to SUBMIT to a mentor. There is no way you’re going to learn from someone if you go in with an attitude of knowing it all already. Really good mentors can pick that attitude up and don’t always have time to deal with pride or with someone who isn’t open to learning. After all, the whole reason of being a mentor to someone is to pass on knowledge. And you’re generally able to absorb and learn better when you start from a posture of humility.
The Bible confirms this important truth in 1 Peter 5:5 when it encourages younger people to submit to their elders. I used to haaaaate that text until I realized it was my own insecurities and pride standing in the way of me growing through the wisdom of those who have gone ahead of me.
So come down a notch sis.
- Bring Something To The Table
Mentorship is a two-way relationship. Any relationship in life is two-way – even our relationship with God.
I think that many of us look at mentorship as a place where we just get get get from this amazing person doing amazing things with their life. But honestly, who wants to be around a leach? I’m willing to bet that you don’t, so no mentor certainly will want to be either.
One thing I have come to recognize with my mentorship relationships is that I want to give to my mentors as much as they pour into me.
Now, this doesn’t always look like giving in terms of money. It has in times past, looked like me babysitting for them or just paying for a cup of coffee or helping them host for a special occasion or just lending a listening ear. I mean one of my mentors, Grant Senzani, has done so much for me and the best I could do was to help keep him accountable with his goals. He really appreciates it.
The key is to grow to understand the person and what matters to them which will make it easier for you to give back to them. They will feel so valued because you are actually valuing them and they will want to help you out even more.
- Stop Looking For All The Obvious “Mentors”
I am someone who has always gravitated towards what everyone else overlooks. I generally don’t like what’s ‘popular’ or what everyone is rushing after. I like what is authentic and different and rare.
I have managed to take this same attitude when it comes to mentors. The thing is that we young people have also been lied to about who we should seek mentorship from. We rush to the famous business men or women etc.
Little do we realize that we haven’t developed genuine relationships with these individuals and so they don’t know us well enough to best help us. Not to mention how busy they are. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying don’t aim to be mentored by the great but start where you are.
More often than not, your greatest mentors don’t look like what you expect. They are the simplest, most humble individuals but they have spent time observing and getting to know you and have your best interests at heart. Mentorship is a very personal journey and is meant to be tailored to who you are and where you’re going in life.
I often joke with my good mentors and friends that they need to be speaking on more public forums and sharing all these gems I’m privileged to hear from them. But they don’t care about that. They are just living their lives and have learnt some hard yet valuable lessons in life that they want to pass on to me.
So stay open minded and learn from the people you least expect to.
“Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?” – Unknown
I hope that helps someone who’s been wanting some guidance in their life. The list I have shared is not exhaustive so if you have any more pointers, please go ahead and share. I would also love to learn from you guys, and someone else may be blessed from your experiences.
Shout-out to the amazing men and women who have taken a keen interest in seeing me become the best version of myself. I appreciate you all. Thanks for taking the time to read this sis.
By the way sis! Have you booked your spot at our next event? Grab your tickets here by 10 August for a fun day in the sun with like-minded women! Deets in the poster below: