If you interview the most successful people in the world, you will hear repeatedly how important it is to have a mentor. Finding a mentor can be quite intimidating but learning from someone else’s experiences can save a lot of heartache. Furthermore, the encouragement from someone you respect can mean a lot during the hard times in life. Being successful, particularly in the MilLife, requires gumption and guidance. To me, a mentor means someone you respect and admire, someone who has experienced more than you and has learned a lot of life lessons. A true mentor will see the potential in you and help you recognize your own ability to be who you want to be. They will help you, teach you, challenge you and share their lessons learned. We all need mentors in our lives no matter what our aspirations are.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. I think a lot of times our own beliefs hold us back from thinking we are worthy. The fear of asking someone we respect for guidance can convince us not to. I used to think that more seasoned spouses had better things to do than go to lunch or share their advice with me. But their experiences have made them more sensitive to newer spouses. After all, what is all that experience worth if they can’t share it? Most people would love the opportunity to share stories about their life. Find someone whose energy naturally attracts you, someone you respect. Ask them out to lunch or coffee. Military life takes moxie on so many levels; throw out the beliefs that limit you.
- Their expertise is invaluable for a reason. Mentors have likely faced a lot of the same obstacles you are facing. Hearing about and learning from the things that worked (and didn’t work) for them will save you time and effort. Learn from their past mistakes. More than likely you chose your mentor because you both have similar definitions of success. So, listen to their stories and their advice and implement it in your own life.
- Find someone who challenges you. At the end of the day, what you want from a mentor is personal growth, not someone who just tells their stories without making it applicable to you. Find someone who cares about you and can be sensitive during the tough times, but also challenges you to learn and grow from tough experiences.
A mentor can benefit you no matter what you do or where you are in life. I am lucky to have a great mentor for military life and for business. She has gifted me self-insight and wisdom and has shown me my own potential just by believing in me. My life has truly been changed, and I am forever thankful for her. What characteristics do you find most important in a mentor?