During my first years as a speaker and author, the most important factor in
my success was the wisdom and experience of my mentors. It would have taken
years of research and experience to acquire all the minute details involved
in the success I was seeking. Instead, I cut my learning time by at least one
half through the guidance of my mentors. The late Cavett Roberts, the dean of
professional speaking and founder of the National Speakers' Association, originated
the quote, "O.P.E." (Other People's Experience). That's what the mentor-protégés
relationship is based upon: other people's experience.
I've found that most people who have become successful in life and/or business
are proud to share their knowledge and experience. If you find someone who can
act as your mentor, it would be a wonderful experience for both of you. I now
act as a mentor for several people. Having discussed mentorship with several
friends who are also mentors, we have agreed that there are some tips on the
mentor-protégé relationship that would be helpful to pass on.
I have listed them in the hopes that you can make the most of one of the best
resources available to you—a mentor!
- As defined by Webster's, a mentor is an adviser, coach/teacher–not
a partner or replacement for your active participation. Look upon
your mentor as a source of inspiration and information, not a replacement
- Be very careful of your mentor's time. The quickest way
to alienate a mentor is to be on the telephone, e-mail or in his or her office
for repeated information and unimportant details. On the other hand, don't
be afraid to ask what you may think is a dumb question. There are no dumb
questions, only uninformed, unprepared people. If you have already covered
the material or problem and you still have questions, make sure you aren't
just being lazy. If you do need further clarification and help, then certainly
contact your mentor.
- When working with a mentor take careful notes so you don't have
to go back for repeated information. Always take notes; they will
help you in preparing intelligent, meaningful questions and in retaining the
- If you are asking advice of a mentor—take it! Proteges,
in their enthusiasm, often ask advice and then argue the point. Don't reinvent
- When you receive advice and suggestions from you mentor, report
back on the results or action taken. Your mentor may see that you
need a slight adjustment or correction. Small game- plan refinements can be
extremely helpful. If you are proceeding correctly and all is well, you need
to know that also. Reporting to your mentor will give you this knowledge.
Finally, once you have had a mentor, pass on the legacy. It is a wonderful and
rewarding endeavor. One of the fastest ways to go from success to significance
is to be a mentor to someone else!