There are so many myths out there (The Loch Ness Monster, the Bermuda Triangle, all that stuff that happened on the set of Poltergeist), and many of them surround mentorships. People think certain things when they hear the word “mentor” or “mentoring,” and a lot of it is false. As part of #MayIsForMentorship month, let’s get to the bottom of these myths so you can find the perfect professional mentor!
1. Mentoring is totally one-sided. False! It takes two to tango, people — both on Dancing With the Stars and in a mentor/mentee relationship. This is not you just showing up and asking the Wizard of Oz for answers to all your problems. You need to give your mentor something to work with. Explain the context, including your background, your hopes, your goals, your limitations and what you would like help with from them. Even Luke Skywalker gave Yoda some basic guidelines.
2. Mentors have to be older than you. No way, Jose. Mentors can be the same age as you, or even younger. If someone can give you guidance in your career and has done things you admire, why wouldn’t you want to pick their brains? Elle Magazine editor Leah Chernikoff told Real Simple, “I’m at least five years older than many of my coworkers, and despite my being supposedly wiser and their boss, I find myself taking notes from them on new apps, trending hashtags and the latest way to stream live video.”
3. The relationship has to be in person. If companies can function well with employees all over the world, then there is no reason why you can’t have a great communicative relationship with your mentor over Skype, texts, email and Google Hangout.
4. Mentoring stops once you reach your goals. Absolutely not! You don’t just ditch your mentor once you have hit your marks. Now is when you need them more than ever. Super successful people talk to their mentors everyday! General Motors CEO Mary Barra is constantly using her network of mentors, and she is the CEO! “Different people see different aspects of us as we progress in our careers and handle the opportunities and challenges along the way,” she writes. She said her mentors have helped her to speak up in meetings and honor commitments.
5. You can only have one mentor. Lyle Stevens, co-founder of the social influencer marketing platform Mavrck, says it is best to have mentors in different area of expertise. He has four, actually — “one very technical expert, a second one who’s an expert on customer acquisition and marketing, a third who is focused on recruiting and team building and the fourth is an expert in general operations, team management and how to run a business.” He even has one that helps with work-life balance.
We’re not saying everyone needs four, but don’t limit yourself to just one. “When building your network of mentors, be honest about your mid- and long-term career goals, and how hard you are willing to work to achieve them. Then turn to those who best know you and your work. Earn their respect and trust so they will extend their personal capital to you with confidence and be your professional champion,” Barra said in an interview.
6. Only mentees will learn from this relationship. Not so. Mentors can get so much knowledge from their mentees. In addition to learning how to be more tech savvy, they may also gain a new outlook by looking back on their own career milestones.
Got any career myths you need us to explore? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!
This post was previously published on Levo League by Meredith Lepore
(Photos via Getty)