What makes a good mentor?
Athletes who have their eyes on gold medals know they can’t achieve their goals alone. Operating at a top physical level requires the help of trainers, family members and coaches. While athletes turn to their coaches for tips on using their bodies and performance-enhancing drills, you can turn to a mentor if you’re looking to get the edge, develop the mindset of a champion and take your life to the next level. Knowing the qualities of a good coach and mentor can make or break your chances for success.
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What’s the role of a mentor?
A mentor is like a coach for your mind. While an athletic coach focuses on both the physical and mental pieces of the game, getting the body in top shape as well as getting the athlete in the right mindset, a mentor stays solely in the realm of the mind. The role of a mentor is to be a role model, lend you their knowledge and provide emotional support.
A mentor can help you set goals, explore different career paths and make connections. They’ve been where you are, and they’ll give you advice based on years of experience. The role of a mentor is not to tell you what to do – or to be your best friend. A mentor will help you make better decisions on your own, while setting boundaries and keeping you on track.
Great mentors know short-term goals are just as important as long-term ones. If you know what your long-term goals are, a mentor can help you develop a goal-setting strategy that will achieve lasting results. This will make your objective feel more attainable, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment checking smaller items off your to-do list as you work toward your larger goal.
Who is going to get you moving when you’re just not feeling it? Olympic athletes know better than anyone that the path to success is not always easy. Often, the easy choice is giving up. When you feel like throwing in the towel, your mentor is there to instill confidence and pick you back up. A great mentor pushes you beyond your comfort zone – where the real growth happens. They point out your strengths and remind you of your ultimate objective, pushing you to persevere through the toughest of obstacles even when you think it’s impossible.
One of the most important qualities of a good coach and mentor is that they have expertise in your area and experience that matches up with your goals. A tennis player wouldn’t hire a basketball coach, and you wouldn’t work with a mentor from the nonprofit world if you want to get the edge in finance. Surrounding yourself with the right people is a big part of success, and your mentor must be one of those people.
If you truly want to get the edge, you need a mentor who won’t sugarcoat things for you. The tough conversations are often the ones that lead to the most change. A mentor who will always be honest with you and tell you what others won’t is critical to improvement. Honesty from a mentor is also crucial for setting realistic goals. In return, you’ll feel like you can be honest with them as well, creating a circle of trust that will empower you to reach your goals.
A mentor can’t do their job properly if the two of you aren’t able to communicate with each other. Having a mentor who practices deep listening, asks insightful questions and checks in on your progress is critical to your success. Similarly, you must feel comfortable enough around them to express your concerns and ask questions about your training. Effective communication guarantees that the approach your mentor takes with you is unique to your strengths and weaknesses, which allows for greater improvement.
If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. One of the most important qualities of a good coach and mentor is that they will make sure you are properly prepared in order to meet your goals. This means practicing the little things you need to succeed day in and day out. They take your goals and implement a plan that’s tailored to you and your desired results, so you get the edge not only today, but long-term.
It’s unfortunate that having empathy is sometimes seen as a weakness in our society. The truth is that emotional intelligence can help you get the edge over the competition and is a top trait to look for in a mentor. The role of a mentor is to listen and provide advice, so you want someone who is empathetic to your situation while also bringing an objective view. Without empathy, they won’t be able to see things from your perspective.
At the end of the day, what makes a good mentor is passion. Mentors aren’t paid. They’re not getting lucrative bonuses for spending time with you. They became mentors because they are passionate about what they do and want to help others find their own passion. They know that the secret to living is giving and that true fulfillment only comes from helping others. Passion is one of the qualities of a good coach and mentor that is the hardest to find – but when you do, you’ll recognize it.
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