You need a mentor!!!
In todays Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast “You need a mentor”, Aaron gets us thinking about the need for mentors in youth work. We look at five things we need to do to find and get a mentor. He also leaves us with a challenge. Here is the overview.
Find a worthy mentor
Check them out! If you are looking to become a better you in your personal life, your job wherever then you want someone who is going to be able to do that. There are a lot of people who make their living telling you what to do who have never done the things they sprout. Snake oil sellers.
You want to find a person who has lived a worthy life. Who has made mistakes and learnt from them. Who dosen’t have all the answers but has a network of people to help them. Who sees their family as more important than the work.
The key here is to see if their public face and private are the same or if they wear masks. Check out their social media profiles, ask people who know them about their personality and behaviour.
Mentoring doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment. What does this person have to enrich your life or work?
If they are not a fit move on to someone that is.
Be mentor worthy
Nothing will end your search for a mentor faster than if you are not ready. There is an old proverb that goes “when the student is ready the master will appear”. This fits perfectly in mentoring. Mentor will check you out too. You don’t have to be perfect but you have to want to strive towards it. You need to be teachable and open to being challenged. You need to recognise your limitations and know what makes you tick. You need to know your values and why you want a mentor.
Your work must be of an exceptional level. If it’s not you better be able to show that you are trying. You need to be a learner at heart, taking every opportunity to learn a new skill. You must be reflective.
If you tick these boxes you will be in a great place to find and get a mentor. If you don’t tick the boxes it doesn’t mean you are lost. Work on the things that you are lacking and realise that most people will overlook your lack of skills and experience for a bit more passion.
Make the ask
If the potential mentor is worthy and you are a worthy candidate then it’s time to ask them to be your mentor.
- Don’t be a crazy fanboy of girl. Don’t ask for the person to “be your mentor” right off the bat. It too big of an ask at the first meeting. Get to know them first.
- Ask for an initial meeting. Something informal, over coffee maybe. Remember to keep it to less than an hour. Come with questions that you’re prepared to ask, but let the conversation flow. This is the best place for you to check out if they are going to be a good fit for you. If all looks good Ask if they would be willing to mentor you.
- After that initial meeting don’t forget to drop a thank you note to the potential mentor
Don’t ask a yes man
This is a side note to the ask. You don’t want someone who will agree with you all the time. Difference is good. You want someone who will compliment the skills you have and the behavioural style that you have. For more info on this check out our blog posts on DISC. D.I.S.C. The best person to mentor you is one who understands you and brings complimentary knowledge and skills.
Have more than one
In our self care cast we spoke about the need to have multiple people keep you accountable. Similarly no one person will have all the answers. Seek out a few people who can speak into different aspects of your life. Career, family, personal, faith, future. Some people see this as having a board of advisors for your life. They don’t need to all be at the same time. In this case though having more than one person is great.
Give back (be a mentor for others)
If you have been a youth worker for at least 5 years you should be seeking out new youth workers that you can mentor. If you had a new person every year and they went on to mentor other youth workers the numbers grow exponentially. As a sector we would have the most well supported staff ever. We need this so much as most youth workers will bail on the job before they make 5 years. A bit more support will go a very long way.
We challenge you to seek out worthy mentee. It doesn’t have to be someone in your organisation… just someone in the sector.
Mentoring doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment. Great mentors can come in and out of your life at the weirdest times and that is ok. If you don’t have a mentor get one. If you have been in the field for five years or more we challenge you to be mentoring new youth workers. We know this is going to help you and the youth sector as a whole.