How Do You Choose a Mentor?

Everyone has a unique learning pattern.
Some need assistance on the ground from A to Z.
Some only need to know the A and the Z and they want to find the missing pieces from B to Y on their own.

Know that choosing to possess the traits of the latter entails sacrifice. It’s not a short-cut to success. But I find it personally rewarding to be the latter because it allows me to learn other things I would have not learned had my mentor given everything from A to Z. Plus, it boosts my self-confidence in believing that things are only impossible until I make them happen.

If you’re looking for a mentor, find a mentor that matches your learning style with his or her mentoring style. If you’re a mentor, mentor students that match your mentoring style. This is important because a mismatch on learning style and mentoring style may not bear fruit because of learning and mentoring styles that repel.

I was once a high school and college instructor. The schools I worked for sent me to seminars that taught me how to handle students with multiple learning patterns. I learned that I really had to learn how to bend my own style in teaching because I had no choice. Teachers don’t have the privilege to choose the students they’d like to have in their class or section. Similarly, when I was working as a team manager for a BPO company, I also didn’t have the privilege to pick whom I’d like to have in my team. I had to learn how to deal with people with various attitude and working and learning patterns.

When I switched from being an employee to an entrepreneur, I realized that I am an effective mentor when I stick to my own style of teaching. That requires my would-be mentees to choose my style in mentoring and to really like it for the mentor-mentee tandem becomes effective. My style in mentoring is guiding you with how I learn effectively. I learn effectively when my own mentors do not reveal the answer but clues to find the answer. I learn effectively when my mentors give me a map to get where I want to be. I stop them whenever they are tempted to step on the gas pedal on my behalf. They chose me because I chose them. I chose them because they chose me.

I apply the same principle in my businesses. My businesses are founded in the principle of providing service to people who embrace my business identity. Some businesses say they have their own identity, but you can’t help but feel how the management team often scratches their head in their attempt to please their customers every time they review the results of their customer satisfaction survey. Before I launch a business, I make it a point that I’m crystal-clear with why I operate my business the way I want it to be operated. It’s important for me to only attract customers who believe what I believe into and who like what they see when I let them see my objectives from and through my perspective.

My businesses are not for everyone. It’s important for me that my customers have consciously picked me before I pick them. When my customers consciously picked me because they had due diligence to determine how I differ from the rest and they like the difference I make, I don’t even have to do any hard-selling to my customers because they have already chosen me before I chose them. When that happens, marketing my products and services is similar to selling rice. Who here has a rice business? Do you need to explain to your prospective customers why they need to eat rice to survive? No, you don’t. They just hand you their payment and you hand them their order. It’s a self-explanatory type of business.

With the two examples I gave, you’ll understand that birds of the same feather gather together. Have you seen eagles mingling with ducks and chickens? I don’t want to stress myself out by building a business that has a “disposable identity” every time a customer suggests one thing, especially if the suggestion is not in conformity with the core principles of my business. But if I make it crystal-clear to my customers, through my web content, what services they will get and why I think those are beneficial for them and why those are what they only need – and they pick my business – even if they raise a suggestion, I know that suggestion is, at least, congruent to the core principles of my business.

Do you want to do business with people who would like you to go to the south, east, or west when your business is built to go to the north? I don’t know about you, but I don’t like that. Before a customer chooses your business, he or she should know that your business is going to the north. If he or she suggests one thing, it should be, at least, a suggestion to go farther to the north and not a slight left to the west, slight right to the east, or a 1,000-km reverse driving to the south. What does the bus driver do when you mistakenly rode the wrong bus? The driver drops you to the nearest bus stop and you have to find the right bus that travels to the right route where you’re going.

Therefore, when choosing a mentor, you need to love challenging yourself the way your would-be mentor challenges his or her students. If you will force yourself to be mentored by someone whose mentoring style offends, irritates, or frustrates you, then, you are not looking for a mentor but frustration and irritation. Just as how you were taught by your elementary teachers to find your height every time they told you to form a line, you also need to find your style when choosing a mentor. Your learning style should mirror your mentor’s style.

Jaycee De Guzman

I am the founder and CEO of iPresence Digital Marketing, Inc. and Equilyst Analytics, Inc. At iPresence, we have been helping SMEs reach and dominate the global market through our digital marketing services since 2001. At Equilyst, we have been helping Filipinos experience a simplified and profitable stock trading and investing experience in the Philippine Stock Market since 2014.
Jaycee De Guzman

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