Sunday, December 7, 2014

Having LeBron James As A Mentor Won't Guarantee Your Success

If LeBron James was your mentor, what would you do to keep the ball in your court and showcase your potential? There is no doubt you would be a good student and absorb the information and wisdom he had to share. Just the fact of having Labron as a mentor does not guarantee your success, there's more to it that you should know if you are serious about using mentoring to propel your career.

Practical wisdom tells us we should have a mentor, but it's knowing how to choose and engage your mentor, as well as sustain the relationship, are all equally important factors in the decision. In my last article, "Why Your College Degree Is Not Enough", I explained the "why" for having a career mentor, but the next level is knowing the responsibilities of both the mentor and mentee if the benefits will be realized for the time invested.

Photo Credit: b/r
LeBron is a great example of a mentor because almost anyone will immediately be engaged in a mentoring relationship with him. Without question he is highly qualified to be a mentor for several apparent reasons: LeBron demonstrates mastery of his talents, is a savvy business man, knows the importance of marketing, and understands his value. His persona exhibits determination, confidence, and a drive for excellence. These are all great reasons to choose him for a mentor, but whether it's LeBron or anyone else, there are other considerations to make:

  • Does he have the time and will he commit to a regular meeting? 
  • Will he keep your information confidential? 
  • Can he have difficult conversations and provide the necessary feedback for growth? 
  • Is he willing to share his contacts who may be able to help you?
Perceiving whether your potential mentor will meet your expectations or not can save time for both of you. While being a mentor is a big responsibility, it's not the mentor alone who carries the weight for creating a quality relationship, you as the mentee have a lot riding on this, too. When someone has a genuine interest in you and wants to invest in your success, you should understand the significance of your role in this before asking for a mentoring arrangement.

Photo Credit: Bronze Magazine

The path you and your mentor are about to embark on is not only a self exploration for you, it's also an opportunity to reverse mentor your mentor. Reverse mentoring, most times occurs as part of the reciprocity of the relationship, and each person walks away richer as a result. The ownership is on you though, to show your gratitude for their time and the right attitude for the journey, setting the stage for what can be expected from you. This allows a mentor to be open to learning from you, and using these simple tactics can go a long way to impressing anyone, even LeBron:
  • Be on time and prepared for meetings - do your homework
  • Ask for feedback and have an open mind 
  • Seriously consider the advice and take action
  • Deliver results and keep in touch after the agreement has ended
At the end of the day, whether it's LeBron or someone else, the mentoring relationship has to work for both the mentee and mentor if the process is going to be a success. Thinking strategically about what you need, what the mentor has to offer, and how you can help the relationship be effective for you both is the foundation for taking the arrangement from mentorship to friendship. Mentoring at its core is the human spirit connecting with another for the purpose of enlightenment and charting a successful path. The by-product is a lifetime connection and the opportunity to make a lasting impression on someone who invested in you.

If you are not mentoring others, read my article "Who Me? A Mentor?" on the WICT Southeast Blog.

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