You May Already Have A Mentor

You May Already Have A Mentor

“To leave the world a bit better… To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ‐ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I loved Capt Lewis and Lt Hines in LaaD Podcast #11 because they have already achieved success!  This article will build on one of the common themes in the podcast – people lack mentors.  If you need a mentor, I will offer some places to start because you may have already met your mentor:
  • Any person who has taken time to offer you constructive criticism
  • Co‐worker – supervisor, peer, friend, unit influencer (regardless of rank)
  • Someone you look up to or want to emulate (eg. Capt Lewis or Lt Hines)

“Time is the most precious commodity” ‐ Capt Russell Lewis

Time is the best indicator. If someone has spent time to help us be a better person they are already half a mentor.

For example, when I was a lieutenant, I publicly corrected an instructor during his briefing. At face value, this may seem appropriate because teaching bad information can be dangerous, but the issue is that I crushed his credibility in the middle of the brief. A captain pulled me aside and “punched me in the face.” He told me there is a time and place for feedback and more tactful ways of correcting people in public. Had I told him how much the advice meant to me, he would have been inclined to continue to mentor.

“Every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.”
‐ Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I was young, I did not realize that people who went out of their way to offer constructive criticism were mentors. For some reason, I imagined that a ‘mentor’ was supposed to be someone that took me under their wing, but a mentor can be anyone who is willing to offer us advice.

The limitation was myself. It took me a while to realize that it is okay to ask for help because I felt it was a sign of weakness. However, the more people I opened up to the more I realized that we all go through tough times. There are lots of people who have experienced the same stress and internal struggles we have. Good mentors understand that it takes courage to ask for help and will always listen.

A good mentor may not have all the answers, but will help us discover our own answer for ourselves or refer us to someone who can help.

We just need to ensure we do our part to make the mentoring process effective:
  • Bring a list of questions/challenges to focus the engagement
  • Show a return on the time spent together by completing homework assignments and reflecting

“This is what you said, this is what I learned, this is what I did, did I do it right?” 
 John Maxwell

Remember, asking for help or advice is not a sign of weakness. We all need help and people who spend their time with us are a good place to start looking.


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